By Jacqui Rogers / Feb. 26, 2020
Eight Nobel prize-winners were among the 600 economists who explained in a 2014 letter to Congress, “The effect of increasing the minimum wage on employment is probably the most studied topic in labor economics, and the consensus of the literature is that moderate increases in the minimum wage has little or no negative effect on employment.”
Tell it to the Pennsylvania legislature. For the past 10 years, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has remained at $7.25 per hour, the lowest amount allowable by federal law, even as inflation has risen 13 percent. Every state bordering Pennsylvania has raised its minimum wage and provided cost-of-living increases. To date, 31 states and 41 cities have increased minimum hourly rates without any significant loss of jobs or small businesses. Minimum wage is too often blamed for loss of employment when inflation, obsolete production models and poor management are the real culprits.
States offering higher wages experience larger, more qualified, and reliable employee pools. Employers in those states pay less cost for recruiting, retraining and overtime. According to Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office, if the state raised its minimum wage to $12, the state budget would gain $170 million, owing to taxes paid by low wage workers and reduced public assistance. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that while 1.3 million jobs nationwide might be lost in the short run, 27.3 million people would benefit if the federal minimum wage were to be raised to $15.