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Who Will a Higher Minimum Wage Actually Help?

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The Daily Signal put up this video of comments from federal workers who are on strike because they want a higher minimum wage.  Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) says that it isn’t fair for the top 1% to have so much income and that it should be redistributed.  The current minimum wage for federal workers is $10.10 (thanks to an executive order from the President).  Perhaps I could get on this redistribution bandwagon if we applied it to the top 1% of federal workers.  I’m sure they’re all overpaid, so let’s redistribute it to those who risk their lives for their country rather than those who work at the National Zoo (which has a pretty dismal record).  

The point is, what your work is worth is very subjective.  Even at current military wages it’s hard to find people.  Entry-level/minimum wage positions at a potential $15/hour would be very easy to fill.  But, let’s not forget that the talk about the minimum wage doesn’t have much to do with helping those on minimum wage.  Congressman Johnson is at least honest in the video because he echoes the Left’s talking points against the supposed 1%.  The minimum wage protest isn’t about helping the poor as much as it is about punishing the rich.  The goal is redistribution.

It’s also interesting to note that only a small percentage of workers make minimum wage.  From the Pew Research Center:

Perhaps surprisingly, not very many people earn minimum wage, and they make up a smaller share of the workforce than they used to. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year 1.532 million hourly workers earned the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour; nearly 1.8 million more earned less than that because they fell under one of several exemptions (tipped employees, full-time students, certain disabled workers and others), for a total of 3.3 million hourly workers at or below the federal minimum.

That group represents 4.3% of the nation’s 75.9 million hourly-paid workers and 2.6% of all wage and salary workers. 

Other stats:

People at or below the federal minimum are:

    • Disproportionately young: 50.4% are ages 16 to 24; 24% are teenagers (ages 16 to 19).
    • Mostly (77%) white; nearly half are white women.
    • Largely part-time workers (64% of the total).

Consider that the current unemployment rate is higher than the percentage of those on minimum wage.  Rather than focus on this small group as a political gimmick, those who care about American workers should focus on improving the climate for those doing the hiring rather than give them another reason to cut hours and employees.  Unfortunately, the Left isn’t interested in giving people jobs, but increasing dependency on the ultimate one-percenter — the federal government. So, who does a higher minimum wage help the most?  Those whose power depends on political gimmicks and an expanding federal government.


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