A new Rasmussen poll indicates that 54 percent of Americans favor raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour, as the president proposed in his State of the Union address last week.
“Most voters don’t think the minimum wage is enough to live on, and support President Obama’s proposal to raise it from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour,” Rasmussen found. “They’re more narrowly divided, however, when asked if hiking the minimum wage will be good for the economy.”
While minimum-wage increases are usually popular, economists debate their impact.
“There are not millions of working families making the minimum wage,” wrote Keith Hall, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. “In fact, about 1.7 million people currently earn the federal minimum wage – this is 0.7 percent of the working-aged population. Over half of these people are under the age of 25 and nearly a third are teenagers.”
“Raising the minimum wage may reduce low-skilled employment, employer job training, and worker benefits,” he added. “That would have a particularly negative impact during this historically slow economic recovery, not to mention the fact that only 46 percent of the population under 25 years old are currently employed.”
But Paul Krugman wrote for The New York Times that minimum-wage increases are “actually good policy.”
“[T]here just isn’t any evidence that raising the minimum wage near current levels would reduce employment,” Krugman said.
Other proposals concerning the minimum wage remain attractive to some economists.
“An alternative would be to index the minimum wage. To index the value of the minimum wage so it increases with the wages of other workers or that it increases with overall inflation,” Alan Krueger, co-author with David Card of “Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage,” told PBS.
“Sometimes people mock us. They’ll say, ‘why not raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour or $30 an hour?’ Which is a little bit like saying, ‘it’s cold in this room, why don’t we raise the temperature? Why don’t we keep raising it to 120 degrees, 130 degrees?'” Krueger said.
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