A guide to minimum wage

Posted on August 05, 2009

Calls for an even higher minimum wage, or living wage, are severely misguided (“Minimum wage still not enough,” July 29 editorial). Decades of economic research shows that mandated minimum-wage increases spike job losses, particularly among vulnerable groups such as teens, minorities and adults without a high-school diploma.

This job loss is exacerbated in a weak economy.

In fact, the vast majority of minimum- wage earners are teens living at home (41 percent) and second-wage earners in a household (21 percent), whose income is supplemental to the head of the household. Research from Syracuse University shows that 83 percent of the benefits of a minimum- wage increase went to families above the poverty line.

Those concerned about the working poor should support increasing the earned income tax credit, which delivers 90 percent of its benefits to poor families without eliminating job opportunities for the most vulnerable workers.

Kristen Lopez Eastlick Washington, D.C.

The writer is senior economic analyst for the Employment Policies Institute.