In an ideal world, everybody would be able to find a job and be paid what they believe their work is worth. A look at basic economic principle illustrates how minimum wage can make both of these things immensely more difficult than need be.
Oft discussed– whenever the minimum wage debate is brought up– is the concern of an eventual increase in the cost of living, which, while valid, seems less pertinent of an issue than those thousands of jobs and potential jobs being sacrificed almost immediately. Oddly, this more urgent widespread inability to obtain and maintain a job for those who a high minimum wage would supposedly benefit is left largely unacknowledged by opposers.
Although the idea of a “living wage” is mostly of benevolent origins, it is extremely counter-productive. Hikes in hourly wages are beneficial for those who already have a job, so long as they don’t get fired or laid off due to the increased liability per employee, which is extremely plausible, especially when it comes to smaller businesses.
With a federally guaranteed pay of $15/hour potentially in the country’s future, it is important to recognize that the public interest in unskilled work will inevitably grow, leaving fewer people to higher education, more of the elderly being involved in the job market and an overall decrease in available jobs.
Having a minimum wage increases employers’ cost, meaning less jobs available and a more competitive job market. Unsurprisingly, this market lends itself to be dominated by those privileged enough to perform well on a paper application which in turn leads to higher unemployment rates among those in poor economic standing.
Many people suffering from a gap in employment find themselves willing to work but unable to find an employer willing to risk the cost of another employee at rates such as those mandated in the U.S. Those who would take a job for less are legally unable to do so and for this reason, bootstraps aren’t much good for gaining traction in the job market.
The solution to this issue can be found in countries like Iceland, Norway and a few others without a minimum wage. In these countries, workers unionize to negotiate their wages with their employers. This gives more leeway to workers who would like to explore their options in various markets and encourages employers to offer competitive rates to attract more potential employees.
Unfortunately, the abolishment of the minimum wage in the states is unlikely to ever hold any weight amongst voters due to lack of awareness when it comes to the possibility of a negotiable job market, as well as the highly partisan nature of the issue. As with any matter, the political exploitation of the supposed benefits of raising minimum wage “in the name of the people” offers holds too much weight with politicians to ever be looked at objectively by either side of the aisle.