Minimum Wage Hurts Teenagers and Minorities

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Everyone has heard that money doesn’t grow on trees. If it did, then Michigan Congressman David Bonior’s call to raise the federal minimum wage might make sense.

Unfortunately for black teenagers and other workers with developing job skills, Congressman Bonior’s efforts actually make it harder for them to find work.

When legislators raise the minimum wage, they make it illegal to pay a worker below the government-mandated limit. If that limit happens to be more than that worker’s job is worth, he is legally forbidden from keeping—or getting—his job.

Historically, it’s always been those with limited earning power—poor blacks, teenagers, and unskilled women who have just joined the workforce—who are most harmed by minimum wage hikes.

According to U.S. Department of Labor figures, 20,000 workers lost their jobs following the 1996 minimum wage hike, while unemployment among black teenage boys jumped from 37 to 41 percent.

That’s why Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman calls the minimum wage "the most anti-black law on the books."

Raising the pay of hard-working employees is a desirable goal, but increasing the minimum wage just prices the most vulnerable workers out of the labor market.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.