Minimizing Opportunity

The Story

photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Mayor de Blasio’s demand for a $15-per-hour minimum wage in New York by 2017 is the cornerstone of his agenda to end income inequality—and the idea has momentum, as the Los Angeles City Council has just passed its own $15 minimum-wage law. Yet only a tiny percentage of American workers earn the minimum wage, and studies show that raising it drives up unemployment for low-wage earners. If the mayor has his way, low-income workers will have more trouble finding jobs.

The Facts You Need to Know

  1. Minimum Wage Up, Jobs Down: As mandatory minimum wages go up, so does unemployment for unskilled workers.

  2. A Stepping Stone, Not a Dead End: Only 3% of American workers earn the minimum wage, and half are under 25—for most, these low-wage jobs are stepping stones to better ones.

  3. How Markets Raise Wages: Ninety-three percent of New Yorkers make more than the minimum wage already not because of a law, but because employers must pay more to retain them.

“The true minimum wage is zero—the amount an unemployed person receives from his nonexistent employer.”

Milton Friedman

Twitter Take

The Past is Present

Let Them Eat Minimum Wage By Steven Malanga (July 2004)

Union bosses and liberal politicians like to argue that raising the minimum wage will help lift people out of poverty. But the facts, as numerous studies have amply demonstrated, utterly contradict this notion, and consequently a broad range of economists and policy makers have long ago rejected it.

In Case You Missed It

October 22

October 22, 2014 | New York City

Watch Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Scott Winship and AEI Scholar Ed Conard debate income inequality with Nick Hanaeur and Ellen Gould on Intelligence Squared.

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