Last updated on: 3/22/2016 3:44:30 PM PST
Should the Federal Minimum Wage Be Increased?


PRO (yes)

The National Employment Law Project (NELP), in the "Minimum Wage Question and Answer" section of its Raise the Minimum Wage website, available from raisetheminimumwage.com (accessed Feb. 10, 2016), wrote:

"Raising the minimum wage right now is more important than ever. Minimum wage increases stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending, without adding to state and federal budget deficits. Consumer spending drives 70 percent of the economy, and increasing demand is key for jumpstarting production and re-hiring. A raise in the minimum wage puts money into the pockets of low-income consumers, who immediately spend it at local businesses... Strengthening the minimum wage can help build a sustainable economic recovery – without increasing costs for taxpayers…

[S]ix of the top ten growth occupations projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for next decade are low-wage jobs, including home health aides, customer service representatives, food preparation and service workers, personal and home care aides, retail salespersons, and office clerks. Raising the minimum wage would boost pay scales in these types of jobs where millions of Americans today spend their careers… Research has documented how, especially in low-wage industries, raising wages reduces turnover, because workers who are paid more stay with their current employer longer."

Feb. 10, 2016 - National Employment Law Project (NELP) 



The New York Times and CBS News, in a May 28-31, 2015 poll of 1,022 people, as reported in a June 3, 2015 article in the New York Times titled "Americans' Views on Income Inequality and Workers' Rights," found:

"As you may know, the federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. Do you favor or oppose raising the minimum wage to $10.10?"

Group Group Share: Favor Group Share: Oppose
All adults 71% 26%
Republicans 50% 48%
Democrats 86% 13%
Independents 76% 22%
Men 67% 31%
Women 75% 22%
Income less than $50,000 79% 19%
Income $50,000 - $99,999 63% 34%
Income more than $100,000 65% 34%
Union household 75% 23%

May 28-31, 2015 - CBS News 
New York Times 



Barack Obama, JD, 44th President of the United States, in his Feb. 12, 2013 "State of the Union Address," available from whitehouse.gov, stated:

"Tonight, let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour…

This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. And a whole lot of folks out there would probably need less help from government.  In fact, working folks shouldn't have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher."


Feb. 12, 2013 - Barack Obama, JD 



Robert B. Reich, JD, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and former US Secretary of Labor, in a May 7, 2015 blog post titled "Raise the Minimum Wage to $15," available from robertreich.org, stated:

"If the minimum wage in 1968 had simply kept up with inflation it would be more than $10 today.  If it also kept up with the added productivity of American workers since then, it would be more than $21 an hour…

More money in people's pockets means more demand for goods and services, which means more jobs not fewer jobs.

Studies also show that when the minimum is raised more people are brought into the pool of potential employees, giving employers more choice of whom to hire. This reduces turnover and helps employers save money.

Finally, employers who don’t pay enough to lift their employees out of poverty are indirectly subsidized by the rest of us – who are paying billions each year in food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, and welfare, to make up the difference.

The minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour. It's the least that a decent society should require."


May 7, 2015 - Robert B. Reich, JD 



Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a network of business owners, executives and investors, in the "Business for a Fair Minimum Wage Federal Sign on Statement," available from the Business for a Fair Minimum Wage website (accessed Feb. 11, 2016), wrote:

"As business owners and executives, we support gradually raising the federal minimum wage to at least $12 by 2020. It's good for business, customers and our economy. Today's outdated minimum wage has far less buying power than it had in the 1960s. Stuck since 2009 at $7.25 an hour – just $15,080 a year – the minimum wage impoverishes working families and weakens the consumer spending at the heart of our economy.

Raising the minimum wage makes good business sense. Workers are also customers. Minimum wage increases boost sales at local businesses as workers buy goods and services they could not afford before. And nothing drives job creation more than consumer demand. Businesses also see cost savings from lower employee turnover and benefit from increased productivity, product quality and customer satisfaction. The most rigorous studies of the impact of actual minimum wage increases show they do not cause job loss. Raising the minimum wage will keep more dollars circulating in our local economy and reduce the growing strain on our social safety net caused by inadequate wages."


Feb. 11, 2016 - Business for a Fair Minimum Wage 



Nick Hanauer, Founding Investor of Amazon.com, in a June 2014 op-ed for Politico magazine titled "The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats," stated:

"If a worker earns $7.25 an hour, which is now the national minimum wage, what proportion of that person's income do you think ends up in the cash registers of local small businesses? Hardly any. That person is paying rent, ideally going out to get subsistence groceries at Safeway, and, if really lucky, has a bus pass. But she's not going out to eat at restaurants. Not browsing for new clothes. Not buying flowers on Mother's Day...

If people are getting $15 an hour or more, they don't need food stamps. They don't need rent assistance. They don't need you and me to pay for their medical care. If the consumer middle class is back, buying and shopping, then it stands to reason you won't need as large a welfare state. And at the same time, revenues from payroll and sales taxes would rise, reducing the deficit."


June 2014 - Nick Hanauer 



600+ economists, including seven Nobel Laureates, in a Jan. 14, 2014 letter to President Obama, available from the Economic Policy Institute's website under the title "Over 600 Economists Sign Letter in Support of $10.10 Minimum Wage," wrote:

"July [2014] will mark five years since the federal minimum wage was last raised. We urge you to act now and enact a three-step raise of 95 cents a year for three years—which would mean a minimum wage of $10.10 by 2016—and then index it to protect against inflation...

This policy would directly provide higher wages for close to 17 million workers by 2016. Furthermore, another 11 million workers whose wages are just above the new minimum would likely see a wage increase through 'spillover' effects, as employers adjust their internal wage ladders. The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults in working families...

In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front."


Jan. 14, 2014 - Letter from 600+ Economists to President Obama (205KB)  



New York State's Department of Labor, in a Feb. 2016 report titled "Analysis: Raising New York's Minimum Wage to $15," available from governor.ny.gov, stated:

"Raising the hourly minimum wage to $15 in New York State – as Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is proposing – provides vitally important benefits to the state's economy, ensuring opportunity for millions of New Yorkers and creating jobs.

On the facts, raising the minimum wage increases the standard of living for workers, reduces poverty, incentivizes fair and more efficient business practices, and ensures that the most vulnerable members of the workforce can contribute to the economy. Increasing the minimum wage stimulates demand for goods and services, leading employers to bring on new staff to keep up with this increased demand. As a whole, all New Yorkers benefit from a $15 minimum wage…

Raising the minimum wage to $15 would directly benefit 2.3 million workers in New York State, or about a quarter of the total workforce. Contrary to what many believe, raising the minimum wage affects more adults – including many who support families – than it does high-school students earning weekend pocket money. Half of all workers earning $15 per hour or less are 35 or older. Outside of New York City, 70 percent of these workers are over the age of 25. In New York City, 80 percent of these minimum wage workers are over age 25, and more than half (over 53 percent) are 35 or older."


Feb. 2016 - New York State Department of Labor 



Hillary Clinton, JD, former US Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate, in a Nov. 3, 2015 speech to constituents in Iowa, reported on by the Huffington Post in an article titled "Hillary Clinton: Raise Federal Minimum Wage to $12 Per Hour," stated:

"I want to raise the federal minimum wage to $12, and encourage other communities to go even higher… I think we can manage it, and I don't think there should be any unintended consequences to job creation."

Nov. 3, 2015 - Hillary Clinton, JD 



Bernie Sanders, US Senator (D-VT) and 2016 presidential candidate, in a July 22, 2015 speech at a "Raise the Minimum Wage" rally, available from sanders.senate.gov, stated:

"In the year 2015, a job has got to lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it. The $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage is a starvation wage. It has got to be increased to a living wage!

That means raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour!

That means closing the loophole that allows employers to pay tipped workers a shamefully low $2.13 an hour!

And that means demanding that Senate contractors and federal contractors pay all of their workers a living wage with affordable healthcare, decent benefits and the right to collectively bargain! And that's exactly why we are here today.

Today, more than half of all African American workers and nearly 60 percent of Latino workers make less than $15 an hour. That is unacceptable!"


July 22, 2015 - Bernie Sanders 



Mitt Romney, MBA, JD, former Governor of Massachusetts and 2012 presidential candidate, in a May 9, 2014 interview reported on in part by Steve Benen in an article for MSNBC titled "Romney, Santorum Back Minimum-Wage Hike," stated:

"I, for instance, as you know, part company with many of the conservatives in my party on the issue of the minimum wage. I think we ought to raise it… Because frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay."

May 9, 2014 - Mitt Romney, MBA, JD 



CON (no)

The US Chamber of Commerce, in the "Labor" section of its website, available at uschamber.com (accessed Feb. 11, 2016), wrote:

"We oppose minimum wage increases and living wage laws that ultimately hurt entry level workers. Economic studies have shown that mandatory wage hikes price the lowest skilled workers out of jobs. If companies are forced to pay an arbitrarily higher wage, they will seek workers with skills to match."

Feb. 11, 2016 - US Chamber of Commerce 



The Cato Institute, in a fact sheet titled "Four Reasons Not to Raise the Minimum Wage," available from cato.org (accessed Feb. 11, 2016), wrote:

"Some policymakers are proposing to raise the minimum wage, but that policy would be harmful. Research shows businesses would respond to the increased costs by reducing employment, particularly for low-skilled workers. Some businesses may pass the higher costs on to consumers. Despite the hope of proponents, the minimum wage does little, if anything, to decrease poverty.

It Would Result In Job Loss
Evidence of job losses have been found since the earliest imposition of the minimum wage...

It Would Hurt Low-Skilled Workers
Evidence shows minimum wage increases disproportionally hurt the people they’re supposed to help...

It Would Have Little Effect On Reducing Poverty
Evidence suggests that minimum wage increases don't reduce poverty...

It May Result In Higher Prices For Consumers
The costs of minimum wage increases must be paid by someone."


Feb. 11, 2016 - Cato Institute 



Douglas Holtz-Eakin, PhD, President of the American Action Forum and former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, in a Dec. 4, 2013 opinion piece for the New York Times titled "Raising Minimum Wage Is Misguided Policy," wrote:

"Myriad research indicates that raising the minimum wage, while not destroying jobs, impedes job creation. That means an even slower recovery to full employment. California's new bump in the minimum wage to $10 will prevent the creation of almost 200,000 new jobs. If every state followed suit, more than 2.3 million jobs across the country would never see the light of day."

Dec. 4, 2013 - Douglas Holtz-Eakin, PhD 



Antony Davies, PhD, Associate Professor of Economics at Duquesne University, and James R. Harrigan, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University, in an Oct. 21, 2013 article for usnews.com titled "Raising the Minimum Wage Is No Free Lunch," wrote:

"Raising the minimum wage does not increase the value of the worker's labor. It increases the cost of the worker's labor. And as everyone knows, the more something costs, the less of it we buy...

In a bizarre twist, raising the minimum wage hurts the very people it aims to help. As detailed in a forthcoming paper to be published by the Mercatus Center, national employment data from 1975 through 2012 show that on average, a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage has been followed by no change in employment among college-educated workers, a half-percentage point increase in unemployment for those with high school diplomas, and a one percentage point increase in unemployment for those without high school diplomas. Young people who have yet to finish high school are hit hardest of all. They have to contend with a two percentage point increase in unemployment, and as a result many are unable to find summer employment – employment that would help them acquire the skills to find better work in the future.

This is what happens when economics takes a back seat to political considerations. The feel-good rhetoric of increasing the minimum wage outweighs the economic reality that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Every cost must be paid by someone, and those who will pay for a minimum wage hike are the very people we are trying to help."


Oct. 21, 2013 - James R. Harrigan, PhD 
Antony Davies, PhD 



The National Restaurant Association, in an issue brief titled "Minimum Wage," available from restaurant.org (accessed Feb. 11, 2016), wrote:

"As businesses struggle to recover from the economic recession, dramatic, mandatory wage increases would place yet another financial burden on business owners who are already feeling the pressures of a weak economy and additional costs and regulatory complexity associated with the Affordable Care Act...

Many restaurateurs would be forced to limit hiring, increase prices, cut employee hours or implement a combination of all three to pay for the wage increase. According to National Restaurant Association research, 58 percent of restaurant operators increased menu prices and 41 percent reduced employee hours following the 2007 minimum wage increase."


Feb. 11, 2016 - National Restaurant Association 



Steve H. Hanke, PhD, Professor of Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University, in an Apr. 2014 article for Globe Asia titled "Let the Data Speak: The Truth Behind Minimum Wage Laws," available from cato.org, wrote:

"There are seven European Union (E.U.) countries in which no minimum wage is mandated... If we compare the levels of unemployment in these countries with E.U. countries that impose a minimum wage, the results are clear. A minimum wage leads to higher levels of unemployment. In the 21 countries with a minimum wage, the average country has an unemployment rate of 11.8%. Whereas, the average unemployment rate in the seven countries without mandated minimum wages is about one third lower — at 7.9%...

So, minimum wage laws — while advertised under the banner of social justice — do not live up to the claims made by those who tout them. They do not lift low wage earners to a so-called 'social minimum'. Indeed, minimum wage laws — imposed at the levels employed in Europe — push a considerable number of people into unemployment. And, unless those newly unemployed qualify for government assistance (read: welfare), they will sink below, or further below, the social minimum."


Apr. 2014 - Steve Hanke, PhD 



Ed Rensi, former CEO of McDonald's USA, in an Aug. 20, 2013 interview with the Fox Business Network, available from foxbusiness.com under the title "Would a Minimum Wage Increase Be a Jobs Killer?," stated:

"The one thing you need to know about the minimum wage, it was designed for entry-level jobs that teach people soft work skills. It was never meant to be a career, it's meant to be a career starter... If they did this minimum wage thing, I'm telling you there'd be another 15 to 20 percent [of small businesses] that are going to go away... You can't afford it."

Aug. 20, 2013 - Ed Rensi 



Kevin A. Hassett, PhD, Director of Economic Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Michael R. Strain, PhD, Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) at the time of the quote, in a Mar. 10, 2013 article for the Los Angeles Times titled "The Minimum Wage Debate," wrote:

"Facts clearly demonstrate that raising the minimum wage is a bad idea.

The case against raising the minimum wage is straightforward: A higher wage makes it more expensive for firms to hire workers. How big an effect does this have on the job market? Economists debate this. But no one argues that increasing the minimum wage increases the number of unemployed workers who find jobs. In the end, the trade-off is clear. People who keep their jobs get more money; those who lose their jobs, or fail to get new ones, suffer...

Why not support increasing the minimum wage? Because it will make it more expensive for businesses to hire young and low-skill workers at a time of crisis-level unemployment. Because it will not alleviate poverty. Because there are much better alternatives to help poor families, and because the minimum wage is a dishonest approach that hides the true cost of the policy."


Mar. 10, 2013 - Michael R. Strain, PhD 
Kevin A. Hassett, PhD 



Jeffrey Clemens, PhD, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California at San Diego, and Michael J. Wither, PhD, teaching assistant at the University of California at San Diego at the time of the quote, in a Nov. 24, 2014 working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) titled "The Minimum Wage and the Great Recession: Evidence of Effects on the Employment and Income Trajectories of Low-Skilled Workers," wrote:

"Over three subsequent years, we find that binding minimum wage increases had significant, negative effects on the employment and income growth of targeted workers. Lost income reflects contributions from employment declines, increased probabilities of working without pay (i.e., an 'internship' effect), and lost wage growth associated with reductions in experience accumulation...

Over the late 2000s, the average effective minimum wage rose by 30 percent across the United States. We estimate that these minimum wage increases reduced the national employment-to-population ratio by 0.7 percentage point...

We find that binding minimum wage increases significantly reduced the likelihood that low-skilled workers rose to what we characterize as lower middle class earnings. This curtailment of transitions into lower middle class earnings began to emerge roughly one year following initial declines in low wage employment. Reductions in upward mobility thus appear to follow reductions in access to opportunities for accumulating work experience."


Nov. 24, 2014 - Jeffrey Clemens, PhD 
Michael J. Wither, PhD 



George Reisman, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pepperdine University, in an Apr. 4, 2014 open letter to US Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, available from the mises.org under the title "How Minimum Wage Laws Increase Poverty," wrote:

"Raising the minimum wage is a formula for causing unemployment among the least-skilled members of society. The higher wages are, the higher costs of production are. The higher costs of production are, the higher prices are. The higher prices are, the smaller are the quantities of goods and services demanded and the number of workers employed in producing them...

[T]he higher the minimum wage is raised, the worse are the effects on poor people. This is because, on the one hand, the resulting overall unemployment is greater, while, on the other hand, the protection a lower wage provides against competition from higher-paid workers is more and more eroded. At today's minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, workers earning that wage are secure against the competition of workers able to earn $8, $9, or $10 per hour. If the minimum wage is increased... to $10.10 per hour, and the jobs that presently pay $7.25 had to pay $10.10, then workers who previously would not have considered those jobs because of their ability to earn $8, $9, or $10 per hour will now consider them... The effect is to expose the workers whose skills do not exceed a level corresponding to $7.25 per hour to the competition of better educated, more-skilled workers presently able to earn wage rates ranging from just above $7.25 to just below $10.10 per hour."


Apr. 4, 2014 - George Reisman, PhD 



Marco Rubio, JD, US Senator (R-FL) and 2016 presidential candidate, in Feb. 13, 2013 comments reported on in part by MSNBC in an article titled "Rubio Takes a Stand Against Minimum Wage," stated:

"I want people to make a lot more than $9… Nine dollars is not enough. The problem is that you can't do that by mandating it in the minimum wage laws. Minimum wage laws have never worked in terms of helping the middle class attain more prosperity...

I don't think a minimum wage law works."

Feb. 13, 2013 - Marco Rubio, JD 



Donald Trump, real estate developer and 2016 presidential candidate, in an Aug. 20, 2015 interview with MSNBC's Morning Joe show, available from MSNBC's website under the title "Trump: Minimum Wage Isn't a Bad Thing," stated:

"You know, we're in a global economy now. It used to be people would leave New York state and companies would leave New York state or leave another state and go to Florida, go to Texas, go to wherever they go because of the wages, you know all sorts of different things. Well, now it's not leaving New York or New Jersey or wherever they may be leaving. Now they are leaving the United States and they're going to other countries because they're competing for low taxes and they're competing for low wages and they're competing for all sorts of things... [W]e are no longer competing against one state against the other, we're competing, it's the United States against other places where, Joe [Scarborough], where the taxes are lower, where the wages are lower, where lots of things are lower. Now, I want to create jobs so you don't have to worry about the minimum wage, you're doing a great job making much more than the minimum wage. But I think having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country."

Aug. 20, 2015 - Donald Trump