Last updated on: 7/5/2017 | Author:

James R. Harrigan, PhD Biography

Senior Fellow at the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University
Con to the question "Should the Federal Minimum Wage Be Increased?"

“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.”

Cowritten with Antony Davies, “Raising the Minimum Wage Is No Free Lunch,”, Oct. 21, 2013

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • CEO, Freedom Trust
  • Former Senior Fellow, Institute of Political Economy, Utah State University
  • Director of Academic Programs, Strata, Oct. 2014
  • Director of Academic Programs, Institute for Humane Studies, Aug. 2011-Aug. 2012
  • Dean, American University of Iraq-Sulaimani, Aug. 2010-Sep. 2011
  • PhD, Political Science, Claremont Graduate School
  • Twitter handle: @JamesRHarrigan
  • Has been published in the Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, and Atlanta Journal Constitution
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should the Federal Minimum Wage Be Increased?