Saturday, May 18, 2013
Kevin A. Hassett
(Continued from page 1)
To put these numbers in perspective, overall unemployment at the height of the Depression was about 25 percent. Especially for low-skill workers and for young workers, the two groups of workers who will be disproportionately hit by a minimum-wage increase, ours is a labor market in crisis. Increasing the cost of job creation now is unwise.
One reason public officials continue to embrace such a bad idea is that it's popular, and thus can provide an opportunity to score political points.
The last time we had this debate, it was President George W. Bush who signed a minimum-wage increase into law. The fact that even a Republican president did so shows just how tempting this policy is to politicians.
The head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Steve Israel, knows this. He told The Washington Post last month that the minimum wage was "a reminder to suburban independent voters that House Republicans are extreme, and out of touch."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi seconded that notion, explaining to The Post that Democrats intend to embrace a simple message: "We want to raise the minimum wage, and you don't. Why not?"
Why not support increasing the minimum wage? Because it will make it more expensive for businesses to hire young and low-skill workers at a time of crisis-level unemployment. Because it will not alleviate poverty. Because there are much better alternatives to help poor families and because the minimum wage is a dishonest approach that hides the true cost of the policy.
Kevin A. Hassett is director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where Michael R. Strain is a research fellow. They wrote this for the Los Angeles Times. It was distributed by MCT Information Services.