Minimum wage hike not right course to aid needy

Posted on April 26, 2009

An inaccurate story (“$13.63,” April 19) recently purported that a wage rate at least twice the state minimum wage is necessary to pay rent to live in Wyoming.

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) or second-wage earners in households (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 hikes spike job losses, particularly among vulnerable groups like adults without a high-school diploma. This job loss is only 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. The EITC delivers 94 percent of its benefits to poor families without eliminating job opportunities for the most vulnerable workers.

From Kristen Lopez Eastlick
Senior economic analyst
Employment Policies Institute
Washington, D.C.