Here’s a letter to Maryland state senator Cory McCray (D):
After you and a majority of your fellow state senators voted to raise Maryland’s hourly minimum wage to $15, you said – as reported today on WTOP radio – that you “have never been as proud to be a part” of that chamber as you are now that it voted to raise the minimum wage.
Although your intentions are undoubtedly excellent, the actual effects of this minimum-wage hike will be no cause for pride.
Workers who are unable to produce each hour at least $15 of value for employers in Maryland will be rendered unemployable in your state. Not only will these workers lose current incomes, they will lose what for many, or perhaps most, of them is something of even greater value – namely, the opportunity to get on-the-job experience.
Of the workers who do find work at $15 per hour, many of them will discover their jobs to be more onerous than otherwise. These workers will be worked harder and more inflexibly – and with fewer on-the-job amenities – in order to ensure that they remain worthwhile for their employers to retain.
Furthermore, the specific workers most likely to be priced out of work by your minimum wage are those with the absolute fewest skills, as well as those whose family or personal circumstances make them most likely to miss work. Impoverished and poorly schooled teens and other unskilled workers in inner-city Baltimore will suffer far more from your minimum wage than will relatively affluent and well-schooled suburban teens in Montgomery County.
I encourage you to listen to this podcast that Russell Roberts did recently with economist Jacob Vigdor on the latter’s research into the consequences of Seattle’s recent minimum-wage hike. If you do so, though, be warned: your pride in your and your colleagues’ action will likely be replaced with shame.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030