A commentary supported its call for a $15 federal minimum wage by pointing out that nearly half of the American workforce makes less than this (“Agenda for working families,” Monday). But that is hardly a justification for such a wage hike; in fact, it’s an illustration of how extreme the proposal is.
When employers can’t offset such cost increases through higher prices, fewer jobs and more automation are the predictable results. That’s why nearly three-quarters of U.S.-based labor economists who responded to a University of New Hampshire survey last year opposed a $15 federal starter wage.
Employees earning a starting wage are not “stuck” at that pay level, as the commentary said. Research by economists at Miami and Florida State Universities found that nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage employees get a raise within their first one to 12 months on the job. That’s because entry-level work provides training that schools and parents sometimes cannot. These opportunities would become harder – if not impossible – to come by with a $15 minimum wage.