Economist Art Laffer argued against a Democratic push to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour as “extremely damaging” to poor people and minorities during a Thursday morning segment of Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan introduced by then President-elect Joe Biden on January 14 includes an additional $1,400 in direct payments to Americans as well as a federally mandated $15 per hour minimum wage. The proposed increase would more than double the current minimum wage of $7.25, which has been in effect since 2009.
“It will really hurt these jobs a lot, Dana, as you point out. It will hurt them,” Laffer told anchor Dana Perino in response to a question about how such a hike would affect small businesses. “But it also has a very definite impact on the demographics of the United States as well.”
“A high minimum wage is extremely damaging to the poor, the minorities, the disenfranchised, and the young,” he continued. “You know, when you raise the minimum wage high enough these people all of a sudden aren’t worth $15 an hour and they get replaced by automation, they get replaced by older workers, more efficient workers.”
Laffer contended that keeping the minimum wage low allows more people to “come into the labor force” and learn the skills required to work their way up the income ladder.
“And you know, this is important especially for youth, blacks, people who have less skills, low educated, all of this is really, really important.”
The economist went on to explain the “differential impact” such an increase has on poorer states like Kentucky, where prices are low but far more workers are earning under $15 than a place like New York City. (RELATED: A Thousand Fast Food Workers Strike For Increased Minimum Wage Over MLK Weekend
While the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 for more than a decade, it is significantly higher in several U.S. states. Currently, the rate exceeds $12 per hour in Oregon, California, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon. Washington D.C.’s minimum wage is currently the nation’s highest at $15 per hour.