The recent column “Working poor desperate for increase in minimum wage” overlooks the fact that the vast majority of minimum wage employees earn a raise on their own without a government mandate. Economists William Even and David Macpherson find that two-thirds of minimum wage employees earn a raise within their first 12 months on the job. That’s because they learn basic skills like time management and customer service that make them more valuable to their employers.
A 2014 study by Dr. Christopher Ruhm of the University of Virginia and Dr. Charles Baum of Middle Tennessee State University finds that this experience leads to higher lifetime earnings. They found that students with part-time work earned incomes that were 20 percent higher than their peers 6-9 years after graduation. However, minimum wage increases put these starter-wage jobs — and the valuable training that comes with them — further out of reach.