Top Pro & Con Arguments


Raising the minimum wage, instead of allowing the free market to determine an appropriate rate, will decrease employee compensation, while forcing businesses to close, use automation, or outsource jobs.

Increasing the minimum wage increases costs for businesses. If a business cannot or will not support the increased cost, the first method of cost correction is to cut hours or lay off employees. Researchers found that “For every $1 increase in the minimum wage, …the total number of workers scheduled to work each week increased by 27.7%, while the average number of hours each worker worked per week decreased [sic] by 20.8%. For an average store in California, these changes translated into four extra workers per week and five fewer hours per worker per week — which meant that the total wage compensation of an average minimum wage worker in a California store actually fell by 13.6%.” The decrease in hours also meant erratic schedules that are difficult for employees to maintain and a decrease in eligibility for benefits such as retirement packages and healthcare. [205]

If a business cannot afford to pay an appropriate amount of employees, the business may be forced to close. Jamie Richardson, Vice President of fast food chain White Castle, said that the company would be forced to close almost half its stores and let go thousands of workers if the federal minimum wage were raised to $15. Forbes reported that an increase in the minimum wage has led to the closure of several Wal-Mart stores and the cancellation of promised stores yet to open. [51] [52]

Businesses that cannot or will not pay a higher minimum wage may also turn to more robots and automated processes to replace service employees. Oxford University researchers explain “robots are already performing many simple service tasks such as vacuuming, mopping, lawn mowing, and gutter cleaning” and that “commercial service robots are now able to perform more complex tasks in food preparation, health care, commercial cleaning, and elderly care.” [67]

Or, businesses may choose to outsource jobs to countries where costs would be lower. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 2,382,000 US jobs were outsourced in 2015 with 44% of companies saying they did so to reduce or control costs. A survey of 400 US Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) found that 70% of CFOs would “increase contracting, outsourcing, or moving actual production outside the United States” if the minimum wage were raised to $10 an hour. [78] [84]

To avoid all of those problems, the free market should determine minimum wages, not the federal government. 82% of small businesses agreed that “the government should not be setting wage rates.” According to Mark J. Perry of the American Enterprise Institute, government-mandated minimum wages “are always arbitrary and almost never based on any sound economic/cost-benefit analysis… [I]n contrast market-determined wages reflect supply and demand conditions that are specific to local market conditions and vary widely by geographic region and by industry.” Perry said market-determined wages result in more employment opportunities for unskilled workers, increased profits for companies, and lower prices for the consumer. [74] [76]

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