While I don’t want to vilify Walt Rucinski for his letter claiming that increases in the minimum wage kills jobs (Feb. 16), he is nonetheless, arguably, incorrect.
He cites one “study of studies” from 2008 written by a professor from the University of California, Irvine and an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank. Too bad Rucinski didn’t check two more recent academic studies that refute the study he quotes. See www.cepr.net/documents/publications/min-wage-2013-02.pdf.
When the minimum wage rises, these other studies assert, there is no net effect on employment rates, neither putting low-wage workers out of a job, nor putting more low-wage workers into jobs.
“The most likely reason for this outcome,” according to economist John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in a 2013 study, “is that the cost shock of the minimum wage (increase) is small relative to most firms’ overall costs and only modest relative to the wages paid to low-wage workers.” He writes further, “probably the most important channel of adjustment (to cost shock) is through reductions in labor turnover, which yield significant cost savings to employers.”
An increase of the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour will dramatically help low-wage workers, 60 percent who are women and who bring home on average 46 percent of their household income. Less than 20 percent of minimum wage workers today are teens.
A raise to $10.10 still falls far short of a living wage in Montana however – $13.92 for just a single person. And it doesn’t address the lack of protection from arbitrary employers nor provide for an effective voice on the job.
A raise in the minimum wage is just a down payment on making low-wage work better. The future well-being of our economy and society depends on turning low-wage jobs into good jobs.
Mark Anderlik, Missoula