New York Times: Supporting a Minimum Wage Increase

New York Times Economix Blog, July 22, 2009
By Catherine Rampell, Economix Editor,

On Friday, the federal minimum wage will rise to $7.25 a hour, from $6.55. It has not gotten much attention in the news media lately (well, this was scheduled two years ago), but it has gotten a whole lot of attention in my e-mail in-box.

Most of the statements and petitions I've received about the pending increase have been from either business groups and conservative economists saying the increase is a terrible idea, especially during a recession; or labor groups and liberal economists saying the increase is a terrific idea, especially during a recession.

These have been the traditional divisions on this issue for decades.

But Tuesday, I received a statement from Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a group I'm not familiar with, that is apparently from businesses that say the rise is a good thing.

I'd be curious to know how much the statement's signatories pay their own lowest-level employees. If they do think the current, legal pay floor is too low, then these employers can always decide to voluntarily pay their workers more than minimum wage without a federal mandate, if they haven't done so already. But of course that might give their competitors an advantage.

On the other hand, the cynic in me wonders if some of the statement signatories have minimum-wage workers not as employees, but as customers. If their customers have more money, maybe they'll purchase more products and services.

Or maybe the bottom line doesn't matter as much to some companies as Econ 101 generally assumes it does.

Copyright New York Times 2009

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