Few rely solely on the minimum wage

An inaccurate report cited in a Dispatch article purported that a wage rate twice the state minimum wage is necessary to pay rent in Ohio (“Rent often too big a bite, April 15). What the article failed to acknowledge is that only 15 percent of minimum-wage earners are the primary breadwinners for their families.

The vast majority of minimum-wage earners are teens living at home (41 percent) and second-wage earners in a household (21 percent).

Advocating a higher minimum-wage policy to address rental rates in the state would be severely misguided. In fact, decades of economic research have shown that mandated minimum-wage increases spike job losses, particularly among vulnerable groups such as adults without a high-school diploma. This job loss is exacerbated in a weak economy.

Those concerned about whether the working poor have enough money for housing should instead support increasing the earned-income tax credit, which delivers 94 percent of its benefits to poor families without eliminating job opportunities for the most vulnerable workers.

Senior economic analyst
Employment Policies Institute
Washington, D.C.