And for those who insist that raising the minimum wage would cause massive economic dislocation, I’d like to point out that Congress doubled the minimum wage in 1950 with no ill effects, and raised it to about $8/hour in present-day terms in 1968, again with no ill effects. What’s more, with a few exceptions, most minimum wage jobs are in service industries, not manufacturing jobs that are susceptible to being sent overseas. Raising the minimum wage would help a lot of people at a pretty small cost. We should do it.
If it’s true that the government can set wages without measurable affect on jobs, then $7 an hour is awfully meager. Let’s make it $20 or, hell, $100. Why be chintzy? Indeed, at $7 an hour, many people would still be better off on the dole, given the food and medical benefits.
Kevin also renews his push for indexing the minimum wage to congressional salaries at the ten percent level, which he calculates would be $7.50 at present. Aside from market considerations, my initial reaction was that an unskilled laborer wasn’t worth ten percent of what a congressman makes. But it didn’t take me long to come up with a list of congressmen who aren’t even worth $7.50 an hour, so maybe he has a point.