Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. 2019 From A Fourth Turning Perspective - James_Quinn
2.Beware the Young Stocks Bear Market! - Zeal_LLC
3.Safe Havens are Surging. What this Means for Stocks 2019 - Troy_Bombardia
4.Most Popular Financial Markets Analysis of 2018 - Trump and BrExit Chaos Dominate - Nadeem_Walayat
5.January 2019 Financial Markets Analysis and Forecasts - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Silver Price Trend Analysis 2019 - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Why 90% of Traders Lose - Nadeem_Walayat
8.What to do With Your Money in a Stocks Bear Market - Stephen_McBride
9.Stock Market What to Expect in the First 3~5 Months of 2019 - Chris_Vermeulen
10.China, Global Economy has Tipped over: The Surging Dollar and the Rallying Yen - FXCOT
Last 7 days
Sheffield "Mi Amigo" Memorial Fly Past at 8.45am on 22nd Feb 2019 - 20th Feb 19
Here’s The Real Reason You Stress About Money - 20th Feb 19
Five Online Marketing Predictions that will Matter in 2019 - 20th Feb 19
Has Gold Price Reached Upside Resistance Near $1340-1360? - 20th Feb 19
So Many Things are Not Confirming Stock Market Rally - 20th Feb 19
Forex Trading Management: The Importance of Being Prepared - 19th Feb 19
Gold Stocks are Following This Historical Template - 19th Feb 19
Here’s Why The Left’s New Economic Policies Are Just Stupid - 19th Feb 19
Should We Declare Emergency for Gold? - 19th Feb 19
Why Stock Traders Must Stay Optimistically Cautious Going Forward - 19th Feb 19
The Corporate Debt Bubble Is Strikingly Similar to the Subprime Mortgage Bubble - 18th Feb 19
Stacking The Next QE On Top Of A $4 Trillion Fed Floor - 18th Feb 19
Get ready for the Stock Market Breakout Pattern Setup II - 18th Feb 19
It's Blue Skies For The Stock Market As Far As The Eye Can See - 18th Feb 19
Stock Market Correction is Due - 18th Feb 19
Iran's Death Spiral -- 40 Years And Counting - 17 Feb 19
Venezuela's Opposition Is Playing With Fire - 17 Feb 19
Fed Chairman Deceives; Precious Metals Mine Supply Threatened - 17 Feb 19
After 8 Terrific Weeks for Stocks, What’s Next? - 16th Feb 19
My Favorite Real Estate Strategies: Rent to Live, Buy to Rent - 16th Feb 19
Schumer & Sanders Want One Thing: Your Money - 16th Feb 19
What Could Happen When the Stock Markets Correct Next - 16th Feb 19
Bitcoin Your Best Opportunity Outside of Stocks - 16th Feb 19
Olympus TG-5 Tough Camera Under SEA Water Test - 16th Feb 19
"Mi Amigo" Sheffield Bomber Crash Memorial Site Fly-past on 22nd February 2019 VR360 - 16th Feb 19
Plunging Inventories have Zinc Bulls Ready to Run - 15th Feb 19
Gold Stocks Mega Mergers Are Bad for Shareholders - 15th Feb 19
Retail Sales Crash! It’s 2008 All Over Again for Stock Market and Economy! - 15th Feb 19
Is Gold Market 2019 Like 2016? - 15th Feb 19
Virgin Media's Increasingly Unreliable Broadband Service - 15th Feb 19
2019 Starting to Shine But is it a Long Con for Stock Investors? - 15th Feb 19
Gold is on the Verge of a Bull-run and Here's Why - 15th Feb 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

The Real Secret for Successful Trading

Welfare, Minimum Wages, and Unemployment

Economics / Unemployment Jan 22, 2014 - 10:17 AM GMT

By: LewRockwell

Economics

Gregory Morin writes: Of the various flavors of government interventionism in our lives, the minimum wage is perhaps the most welcomed. It appeals not only to our innate sense of “fairness” but also to our self-interest. Its allure may erroneously lead us to the conclusion that because “it is popular,” ergo “it is right.”


The more astute proponents of the minimum wage, however, immediately point to the obvious; namely, that an extreme minimum wage ($1,000 per hour) would be unequivocally detrimental. However, the proponents quickly turn to dismissing this fear by asserting that, empirically, no such job loss occurs when the minimum wage is slowly raised. This is akin to arguing that although fire can boil water, a small fire won’t heat it up. The support for this assertion is the oft-cited 1994 study by Card and Krueger[1] showing a positive correlation between an increased minimum wage and employment in New Jersey. Many others have thoroughly debunked this study and it is significant that the original authors eventually retracted their claims.[2]

Youth and Entry-Level Unemployment

The problem with such “studies” that purport to demonstrate only positive and no negative effects from a rising minimum wage is that it is quite easy to count individuals whose pay went up. What is more challenging, if not impossible, is to count the people that would have been hired but were not. Likewise, offsetting reductions in non-monetary compensation will not show up in a monetarily-focused analysis.

However, empirical economic data is not entirely useless. Such data is more suited to qualitative rather than quantitative predictions (who is affected rather than how much they are affected). For example, basic economics predicts that a minimum wage will necessarily increase unemployment among those with the least experience. Indeed, if we look at the empirical evidence we see exactly that. Looking at the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics we find that the unemployment rate (June 2013) among 16-19 year olds is 24 percent and among 20-24 year olds it is 14 percent.[3] These values far exceed the unemployment rate (6 percent) of those workers with sufficient experience and skills to make them largely immune to minimum wage pay scales, namely 25-54 year olds. People whose productive value is less than the minimum wage are de facto unemployable. They are denied the opportunity to gain experience and skills, and their exclusion from the job market is a net loss to society.

The minimum wage is just another weapon in the arsenal of the misguided progressive trying to “help” the poor. Their mistake in wielding this weapon is in presuming all workers are similarly situated; i.e., that the vast majority of hourly employees earn minimum wage and that they are uniformly composed of heads of households. In fact the opposite is true. Only 2.1 percent of hourly employees earn minimum wage and of that number over half (55 percent) are 16-24 years old.[4]

How Welfare Brings Down the Asking Wage

So, we know that a sizable number of minimum-wage earners are not in need of a wage that can support a household. But what of the minimum-wage earners who are? We are told repeatedly that minimum wage is not a living wage, so why are not more minimum wage earners simply starving to death? In reality workers earn two wages: one from their employer and one from the state. For example, someone making the current full-time minimum wage earns $15,000 per year, but they are also eligible for additional government benefits that bring their total remuneration to approximately $35,000 per year if they are childless, or up to $52,000 year if they have children.[5] In fact, earning more does not necessarily help one wean himself off this state sponsored support. As wages rise assistance can often decline so precipitously that even earning $1 more can mean a loss of thousands of dollars in aid. This creates a disincentive for the worker to improve and earn more; the perverse incentive here is that we are rewarding the very thing we are trying to eliminate (low wages). These wage subsidies serve only to pervert the normal incentives present in an exchange between employer and employee. Both the employer and the employee are aware of the subsidies, so each is willing to offer less and accept less rather than demand more and offer more.

At first blush one might conclude the employer is making out like a bandit. But there is no free lunch — the subsidies have to come from somewhere. Taxes fund these subsidies. So the employer is not necessarily paying less if its taxes fund the very subsidies its employees are receiving. In fact many employers pay more on net. All employers pay taxes, but only some receive the benefit of subsidized wages. This is a net redistribution from one class of company to another. In essence we are forcing high wage companies to pay low wage companies to keep their wages low.

The Minimum Wage Reduces Worker Productivity

So considering that it is established that minimum wage laws and other forms of wage subsidization are detrimental to the stated goal of improving conditions for those regarded as poor, we must address the question perennially proffered by those who believe one’s salvation can only come via the state: “If not the minimum wage, what then can increase wages?” To answer this question we must understand there are only two possible routes to improving our wages/standard of living. The first method is the unethical route of using force (government) to extract what we want.

The second method, however, is what every rational person would be left with were there no state influence corrupting the incentives that drive their decision-making: improve or augment one’s skills so that they align with those skills currently in greater demand.

Self-improvement through education and/or work experience is the answer to the question: how do I earn more? Government sponsored interference in the market that results in fewer people gaining experience can only serve to frustrate one’s ability to engage in self-improvement. Elimination of the minimum wage is a necessary, although insufficient, first step to improving the economic value of the inexperienced or unskilled.

Gregory Morin, Ph.D. is CEO of Seachem Laboratories located in Madison, Georgia. See Greg Morin's article archives.

You can subscribe to future articles by Greg Morin via this RSS feed.

© 2014 Copyright Gregory Morin- All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules