I wish somebody would pay me minimum wage for all the hours I’ve spend defending myself against the charge of hard-heartedness because I oppose raising the minimum wage. For that reason, I’m delighted that so many columnists have chosen to explode minimum-wage myths (as you know, our caring Congress has just raised it). Robert Samuelson is the latest columnist to comment:
“Fulfilling their promise, Democrats in the House have voted raise the minimum wage from its current $5.15 an hour to $7.25 by 2009. But before you count the big gains for low-income families, consider this fact: Among the poorest fifth of U.S. households (their 2005 incomes: less than $19,178), only one in seven has a full-time, year-round worker. About 60 percent have no worker at all, says the Census Bureau. The rest have part-time or part-year workers. A higher minimum wage won’t help most of these households, which consist heavily of single parents and the elderly.
“Among social scientists, it’s no secret that the minimum wage is a weak weapon against poverty. Modest numbers of workers are affected; many are teenagers, often from middle-class homes; and many of the poor don’t work. And a higher minimum wage may destroy some jobs. No matter. Democrats plunged ahead because raising the minimum wage is symbolically powerful. It says that you care about ‘economic justice.'”