Here are some questions for those who feel that an increase in the legislated minimum wage is likely to improve the economic lot of low-skilled workers – or at least likely enough to improve the economic lot of low-skilled workers to justify serious scholarly discussion of raising the minimum wage.
First (and I thank Ron Muhlenkamp for inspiration here): suppose government mandates – and successfully ensures – that all babysitters be paid at least $15 per hour. If the prevailing hourly wage for babysitters in a town is $10, do you proponents of the minimum wage believe that this mandated minimum wage for babysitters will do nothing to reduce the number of hours that young men and women are hired to work as babysitters? What if the mandated minimum wage is $20 per hour? $11 per hour? And what do you minimum-wage proponents suspect that private schools and child-care companies (that charge premium rates by the hour to care for children during after-school hours) would think of such a minimum-wage-for-babysitters statute?
Second, suppose government legislates a minimum shirt-cleaning price for men’s shirts. That is, all dry-cleaning shops must charge at least, say, $5 to launder and press each man’s shirt. If the prevailing price of laundering and pressing men’s shirts is (say) $2.50 per shirt, do you proponents of the minimum wage feel that this minimum-shirt-cleaning price will have no effect on the number of shirts that customers pay to have laundered and pressed?
Speaking of the minimum wage, here’s Thomas Sowell’s latest on that topic. (HT W.E. Heasley)
And even more by Sowell on the legislated minimum wage. A slice:
A survey of American economists found that 90 percent of them regarded minimum wage laws as increasing the rate of unemployment among low-skilled workers.