By Tom Quiner
A top-down minimum wage imposed by the federal government is impractical.
As this blog has written before, a one-size fits all approach is illogical when you consider the cost-of-living disparity between states.
There is another deleterious consequence to a minimum wage hike: it disproportionately hurts young black workers.
Only 2% of hourly workers in the U.S. even earn the minimum wage. But the vast majority of teenagers begin working at the minimum wage since they have fewer marketable skills.
Nationally, the unemployment rate for all teenagers is 21%, but it is 38% for black teens, up from December’s 35.5% rate. The black teen age unemployment keeps getting worse, and it will get far worse if the president and his party have their way and increase the wage to over ten dollars per hour.
Sadly, a majority of black teens live in single parent homes without a father present. Statistically, children in these homes, regardless of skin color, experience the consequences of social pathology in greater numbers. These pathologies manifest themselves in terms of lower literacy rates, lower graduation rates, increased drug use, increased gang activity, increased likelihood of crime and even violent death.
A job can be a stabilizing factor in a young person’s life, giving him/her increased feelings of self-respect. An entry level job, even if it is merely flipping burgers, teaches young workers skills to help them get a better job.
What are these skills? My first job many years ago earned me $1.50 an hour washing dishes at a neighborhood hospital. I learned the importance of being punctual, following directions, and getting along with people.
I got a raise within a year. Today, two out of three young workers on the minimum wage get a raise within their first year.
There’s no getting around it: a hike in the minimum wage will hamper the ability of minority youth to land that first job that can turn their life around. That’s why I consider the proposed hike in the minimum wage to be particularly heartless.