Attorney Richard Berman warned in an opinion piece Monday increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour could lead to more crime among young people.
Berman has been an avid critics of the $15 minimum wage and the labor movement. He helps run the Center for Union Facts and the Employment Policies Institute which have been highly critical of unions trying to raise the minimum wage. Berman argued that cities like Washington, D.C., which have raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour, could soon see an increase in crime among young people.
“The societal implications of so many young men out of work are broader than those associated with just losing out on a paycheck,” Berman wrote in The Washington Times. “Decades of academic literature finds that unemployment is correlated with crime. A 2003 study in Criminology finds that employment in early adulthood significantly reduces crime.”
New York and California became the first states Apr. 4 to enact a $15 minimum wage. Berman notes earlier increases are already showing what Washington D.C. is in store for.
“On July 1, Chicago’s minimum wage rises to $10.50 on its way to $13,” Berman continued. “Instead of finding more jobs for the city’s kids, it will put them further out of reach. Similar scenes are playing out in cities like Baltimore and Los Angeles, which have thousands of youth not working while city politicians are pursuing or have just passed dramatic minimum wage increases.”
Berman is a noted critics of the $15 minimum wage, but many believe it would beneficial. Democratic politicians and some economists have touted the policy as a way to help people rise above the poverty line. The union-backed Fight for $15 movement has been at the forefront of the policy push on the national and local level since it started in 2012.
“Recognizing how job opportunities reduce violence, many big cities have publicly funded summer jobs programs,” Berman concluded. “More crime, not just lost jobs, may be the real legacy of the Fight for $15.”
Economists generally agree job loss is a potential risk but many believe the impact would be small. The University of California, Berkeley, for instance, found any losses would be marginal compared to the potential benefits. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found any increase in the minimum wage could result in at least some job loss.
Other experts argue the impact will be much worse. The National Bureau of Economic Research and The Heritage Foundation determined the impact of a higher minimum wage is especially bad for young and low-skilled workers. The White House Council of Economic Advisers warned in a report Feb. 22 that low-skilled workers are the most at risk of being replaced by computers.
Fight for $15 did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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