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The costs and benefits of raising the minimum wage
Is it too much for businesses? Or too little for workers?
 

Left-wing advocates applaud this week’s 70-cent hike in the national minumum wage as “a boon for the so-called working poor,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. But most minimum-wage workers are teenagers or spouses earning a second income for families that are doing just fine. Imposing unnecessary burdens on employers is never a good idea, “but the timing for this latest minimum-wage hike, amid a weak economy, could hardly be worse.”

Actually, the timing might be the best part of this raise, said the Norman, Okla., Transcript in an editorial. This boost to $6.55 an hour for the nation’s lowest-paid workers “came just as most Americans are trying to keep ahead with higher gasoline and food prices and surcharges levied on everything from freight to flowers.”

This will hardly be enough to match the recent run-up in gas and grocery prices, said Holly Sklar in the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer. In fact, "it's so little, so late that workers will still make less than they did in 1997, adjusting for the increased cost of living, and way less than in 1968.”

“So how much would be enough?” said the Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier in an editorial. The minimum wage is set to jump again next summer, to $7.25 an hour, capping a 40-percent leap in just three years. This kind of meddling raises costs for employers, forcing some small businesses to cut jobs, and “risks stifling the free market upon which all levels of wage-earners depend.”

 

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