As unemployment reached its highest point in 14 years during the month of October, legislators’ prior decision to substantially increase the minimum wage during good economic times is now yielding troubling results (“Mass. projects business tax hikes,” Nov. 19).
Decades of economic research predicted that there would be an increase in job losses following minimum wage hikes. With demand for their products and services dropping dramatically, employers can’t raise prices and are responding to higher labor costs by shifting their hiring focus to better-skilled applicants or automated services, or cutting back on customer service. Some McDonald’s stores in Illinois are testing kiosks for ordering and automated cooking systems that replace minimum wage workers.
Legislators should take note that the unintended consequence of their past minimum wage hikes is job loss for the least skilled workers at a time when they need help the most. A job at the previous minimum wage is much better than none at a higher rate.