Minnesota Federal Reserve President: If You Aren’t Raising Wages, Don’t Complain About Labor Shortages

Neel Kashkari, US Treasury Department Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability, discusses the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the federal government's $700 billion bailout program, in a forum at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business on January 13, 2009 in Washington, DC. In his remarks, Kashkari stressed the importance of banks …
Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota, Neel Kashkari, blasted claims of a labor shortage by telling employers they must raise wages.

President Kashkari spoke to the Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary on August 7. When asked about issues with wages, Kashkari blasted businesses for complaining about labor shortages, citing concerns about their reluctance to raise wages to attract more workers.

“The minimum wage, there are winners and losers,” he said, adding:

And I think policy makers, local politicians, need to have their eyes wide open that some people benefit, and some people are hurt. If you are in a time of high unemployment and you raise the minimum wage, it’s going to be better for those workers who keep their jobs. And on the margin, it’s going to be tougher for those who don’t have jobs to find jobs.

Kashkari offered those in attendance a thought experiment on the minimum wage. “I’ll give you a simple thought experiment: If you don’t think raising the minimum wage makes it harder for someone to find a job, why stop at fifteen? Why not make it fifty?”

He then condemned business owners who were complaining about a lack of labor. Recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that wage growth is slow in industries concerned with labor shortages.

“Are any of you planning to raise wages in the next year or two?” he asked. “Or are you just complaining that you can’t find workers and you’re not going to raise wages? I can tell you something. If you look at North Dakota in the oil boom, if you raise wages, people respond, and you can find workers.”

“If you aren’t raising wages, it just sounds like whining,” he concluded.

Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at tciccotta@breitbart.com.


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