Michael Hiltzik, a columnist and Los Angeles Times reporter, wrote an article titled “Does a minimum wage raise hurt workers? Economists say: We don’t know.” Uncertain was his conclusion from a poll conducted by the Initiative on Global Markets, at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, of 42 nationally ranked economists on the question of whether raising the federal minimum wage to $15 over the next five years would reduce employment opportunities for low-wage workers.
The Senate Budget Committee’s blog says, “Top Economists Are Backing Sen. Bernie Sanders on Establishing a $15 an Hour Minimum Wage.” It lists the names of 210 economists who call for increasing the federal minimum wage. The petition starts off, “We, the undersigned professional economists, favor an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour as of 2020.” The petition ends with this: “In short, raising the federal minimum to $15 an hour by 2020 will be an effective means of improving living standards for low-wage workers and their families and will help stabilize the economy. The costs to other groups in society will be modest and readily absorbed.”
The people who are harmed by an increase in the minimum wage are low-skilled workers. Try this question to economists who argue against the unemployment effect of raising the minimum wage: Is it likely that an employer would find it in his interests to pay a worker $15 an hour when that worker has skills that enable him to produce only $5 worth of value an hour to the employer’s output? Unlike my fellow economists who might argue to the contrary, I would say that most employers would view hiring such a worker as a losing economic proposition, but they might hire him at $5 an hour. Thus, one effect of the minimum wage law is that of discrimination against the employment of low-skilled workers.