By Tom Quiner
A top-down minimum wage imposed by the federal government is impractical.
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 black teenagers is six times that of the general population, and double that of the general teen population. These gaps don’t seem to change, and will get far worse if the president and his party have their way and increase the wage to fifteen dollars per hour.
Liberal economist, Paul Samuelson, admitted the harm a minimum wage can inflict on black teens in his iconic text book, “Economics”:
“What good does it do a black youth to know that an employer must pay him a minimum wage if the fact that he must be paid that wage keeps him from getting a job?”
In the Prager University video above, economist David Henderson points out that liberal thinking on the minimum wage issue was far from a consensus as recently as 1987. Opposition to the wage included the New York Times.
That has changed, to the detriment of black teens.
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.