Do increases help economies or hurt businesses?
In the United States and around the world, public concern has grown that the lowest-paid workers are falling behind as national economies recover from the global recession. Most Americans support raising the minimum wage to assist low-paid workers, and lawmakers in some U.S. states and cities have done so. As of January 2015, a total of 29 states had set their own hourly minimum wages higher than the federal minimum, $7.25 an hour since 2009. Politicians in many countries besides the United States also have pushed their minimum wages higher. Washington remains sharply divided on the issue, however. President Obama backs a Democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, phased in over a little more than two years. Raising the minimum wage would boost the economy by increasing consumer demand and ease taxpayers' burden by removing some workers from Medicaid and food stamp rolls, advocates say. Congressional Republicans, however, who control both houses of Congress following the November 2014 elections, join many businesses in opposing a wage hike. Increasing the wage wouldn't help the poor, most of whom are not in the workforce, and would make it harder for the lowest-skilled to find employment, opponents say. Congress seems unlikely to enact a wage increase in the near future, but public concern over unequal incomes is certain to continue, political analysts say.
Grimshaw, Damian, “Minimum Wages, Pay Equity and Comparative Industrial Relations,” Routledge, 2013. A professor of employment studies at England's University of Manchester examines national differences among European minimum wage-setting systems.
Waltman, Jerold, “Minimum Wage Policy in Great Britain and the United States,” Algora Publishing, 2008. A political science professor at Baylor University, in Waco, Texas, describes the differing histories and policy decisions that underlie minimum wage policy in the United States and Great Britain.
“Global Minimum Wage,” Reuters, undated, accessed Jan. 2, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
“Minimum Wage,” Business Day Live (South Africa), March 11, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Brock, Sam, “Reality Check: Hype or Reality? Numbers Behind Wage Hike and Jobs,” Bay Area NBC News, Feb. 10, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
DePillis, Lydia, “Why Franchises Are Such a Huge Obstacle to Higher Wages,” Wonkblog, The Washington Post, Dec. 6, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Ton, Zeynep, “A Minimum-Wage Hike Could Help Employers Too,” HBR Blog Network, Jan. 28, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Witte, Griff, “The minimum wage is set to rise in Britain. And Conservatives are all for it,” The Washington Post, Jan. 26, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“National Minimum Wage: Low Pay Commission Report 2014,” United Kingdom Low Pay Commission, March 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Bradley, David H., “The Federal Minimum Wage: In Brief,” Congressional Research Service, May 30, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Eyraud, François, and Catherine Saget, “The fundamentals of minimum wage fixing,” International Labour Organization, 2005, http://tinyurl.com/
Sawhill, Isabel, and Quentin Karpilow, “Raising the Minimum Wage and Redesigning the EITC,” Brookings Institution Center on Children and Families, Jan. 30, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Sherk, James, “Who Earns the Minimum Wage? Suburban Teenagers, Not Single Parents,” Heritage Foundation, Feb. 28, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Greenhouse, Steven, “$15 Wage in Fast Food Stirs Debate on Effects,” The New York Times, Dec. 4, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Semuels, Alana, “More than half of U.S. fast food workers on public aid, report says,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 15, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Winter, Michael, “Protesters Nationwide Call for $15 Minimum Wage,” USA Today, Dec. 4, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Devaney, Tim, “Obama's ‘Pen and Phone’ Barrage,” The Hill, Dec. 28, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Morath, Eric, Damian Paletta and Carol E. Lee, “Wage-Rise Report Sees Fewer Jobs, Less Poverty,” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 20, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Pfeifer, Stuart, “75 economists call for increase in federal minimum wage,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 14, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Kessler, Glenn, “Obama's claim that there is ‘no solid evidence’ that boosting the minimum wage harms jobs,” The Washington Post, Dec. 5, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Simon, Jeff, “Raising minimum wage doesn't affect employment, in 3 charts (and 2 McDonald's meals),” The Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Sullivan, Cara, “Minimum wage hike has an adverse effect on jobs for young workers,” Baltimore Business Journal, Jan. 21, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Connelly, Joel, “States raise minimum wage: Washington is tops, but not for long,” Jan. 2, 2015, SeatllePI.com, http://tinyurl.com/
Cousins, Christopher, “LePage vetoes minimum wage hike, 20 other bills,” Bangor Daily News, July 8, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Johnson, Katie, “Minimum Wage Rising in Much of US,” The Boston Globe, Jan. 1, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Congressional Budget Office
Ford House Office Building, 4th Floor, 2nd and D streets, S.W., Washington, DC 20515-6925
Congress' nonpartisan budget-analysis office analyzes the effects of legislative proposals on the federal budget and the economy.
214 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, DC 20002
Conservative think tank analyzes economic policies from a free-market perspective.
International Labour Organization
4 route des Morillons, CH-1211 Genève 22, Switzerland, 41 22 798 8685
United Nations agency governed by government, employer and labor representatives establishes international fair labor standards; provides information and statistics.
Low Pay Commission
8th Floor, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London EC4Y 8JX, England, 44 20 7211 8212
Expert body established by government of United Kingdom to commission research and make recommendations on wage-setting for low-paid workers.
National Employment Law Program
75 Maiden Lane, Suite 601, New York, NY, 10038
Liberal analysis, information and advocacy group on issues affecting workers.
National Federation of Independent Business
1201 F St., N.W., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20004
Membership group for small business opposing minimum wage increases.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
2 rue André Pascal, 75775 Paris Cedex 16, France, 33 1 4524 8200
Membership organization of industrialized nations that provides statistics on national economies, including minimum wage.
UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education
Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way #5555, Berkeley, CA 94720
University-based center that conducts and disseminates research on labor and employment issues.