Top Pro & Con Arguments
Increasing the minimum wage would have numerous social benefits including reducing poverty and crime, and increasing school attendance and the healthy population.
A 2022 Urban Institute study found that “[i]ncreasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would lift 7.6 million people in the United States out of poverty.” A higher minimum wage would also reduce government welfare spending. If low-income workers earned more money, their dependence on, and eligibility for, government benefits would decrease. The Economic Policy Institute determined that by increasing the minimum wage to $10.10, more than 1.7 million Americans would no longer be dependent on government assistance programs. They report the increase would shave $7.6 billion off annual government spending on income-support programs.
Raising the minimum wage also lifts children out of poverty, increasing their school attendance and decreasing dropout rates. One study found that raising the California minimum wage to $13 an hour would increase the incomes of 7.5 million families, meaning fewer would live in poverty. Teens who live in poverty are twice as likely to miss three or more days of school per month. The study found that “recent experimental studies show that increasing income can improve school performance.” Increasing the minimum wage would also allow teens to work fewer hours for the same amount of pay, giving them more time to study and reducing the likelihood that they would drop out of high school. Alex Smith, Assistant Professor of Economics at the United States Military Academy at West Point, found that “an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 (39%)… would lead to a 2-4 percentage point decrease in the likelihood that a low-SES [socio-economic status] teen will drop out.”
Raising the minimum wage would lead to a healthier population and prevent premature deaths. California study found that those earning a higher minimum wage would have enough to eat, be more likely to exercise, less likely to smoke, suffer from fewer emotional and psychological problems, and even prevent 389 premature deaths a year.  Because minimum wage workers are more likely to report poor health, suffer from chronic diseases, and be unable to afford balanced meals, “policies that reduce poverty and raise the wages of low-income people can be expected to significantly improve overall health and reduce health inequities.”
A society with less poverty, fewer school attendance and health issues, and a higher minimum wage correlates to lower crime rates. According to one study, “higher wages for low-income individuals reduce crime by providing viable and sustainable employment… raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 would result in a 3 to 5 percent crime decrease (250,000 to 540,000 crimes) and a societal benefit of $8 to $17 billion dollars.” A study of crime rates and the minimum wage in New York City over a 25-year period found that “[i]ncreases in the real minimum wage are found to significantly reduce robberies and murders… a 10 percent increase in the real minimum wage results in a 6.3 to 6.9 percent decrease in murders” and a 3.4 to 3.7 percent decrease in robberies.Read More