Top Pro & Con Arguments
Raising the federal minimum wage would exacerbate income disparities and the cycle of poverty.
Cost of living varies wildly in the United States. For example, living in New York, California, and Hawaii costs significantly more than living in Mississippi, Kansas, or Montana. If the federal government raises the minimum wage significantly, the wage will be proportionately much higher in lower income states, meaning employers will not be able to afford the costs of paying employees and residents will not be able to afford the cost of living increases necessary to make up the difference. Small rural communities would especially suffer from the disparity.
Further, a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland found that although low-income workers see wage increases when the minimum wage is raised, “their hours and employment decline, and the combined effect of these changes is a decline in earned income… minimum wages increase the proportion of families that are poor or near-poor.”
As explained by George Reisman, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pepperdine University, “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 the quantities of goods and services demanded and the number of workers employed in producing them.” Thus, raising the minimum wage would actually increase poverty among minimum wage workers.
The increase in poverty combined with an increase in minimum wages could entice high school students with limited opportunities to drop out of school to begin earning. Students from impoverished backgrounds may also drop out of school in order to increase their family’s income. As Mark J. Perry, of the American Enterprise Institute, explains, the students are then further disadvantaged: “the attraction to higher wages from minimum wage legislation reduces high school completion rates for some students with limited skills, who are then disadvantaged with lower wages and career opportunities over the long-run if they never finish high school.”    
Similarly, raising the minimum wage would increase crime. According to a study by Boston College economists, increasing the minimum wage leads to reduced employment which leads to an increase in thefts, drug sales, and violent crime. Their results indicate that “crime will increase by 1.9 percentage points among 14-30 year-olds as the minimum wage increases.” Researchers found that between 1977 and 2012 increases in the minimum wage resulted in “no significant change” in the rates of violent crime or property crime.Read More