Harmful Employment Laws Wage War on Low-Income Workers

Click for audio Harmful Employment Laws Wage War on Low-Income Workers

Imagine if the Michigan Legislature attempted to ban harsh winters. Many citizens might support an end to blizzards and subzero temperatures, but everyone knows it’s silly to ban something beyond government’s control.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the minimum wage, few politicians or citizens understand economics as well as they understand weather. Representative Mike Hanley wants to ignore natural economic forces and raise the state’s minimum wage one dollar to $6.15 per hour.

The problem is raising the minimum wage actually hurts, not helps, low-income workers. Minimum wage laws make it illegal to have a job that pays below the government mandated limit. If that wage is more than a job provider will pay for a certain job, then no worker can get—or keep—that job.

Minimum wage hits black teenagers the hardest. While white teenage unemployment has remained constant through the years at under 14 percent, black teenage unemployment has jumped—to over 28 percent today—following minimum wage increases.

Lower-income employees should be rewarded for their hard work. But productivity and job experience, not the magic wand of minimum wage, are the way to higher living standards for Michigan workers.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.