Get unlimited digital access to baltimoresun.com. $0.99 for 4 weeks.
News Opinion Readers Respond

Minimum wage hike would hurt young

I applaud The Sun's editorial board for recognizing (at least by implication) that raising the minimum wage is an election year gimmick ("Raise wages — no strings attached Sept. 9).

What concerns me is that you find it "hard to discern" what decreasing the corporate tax rate has to do with raising the minimum wage. I can only guess that you have never had to make a payroll that has a significant number of low-skilled workers.

Quite simply, raising the minimum wage raises labor costs to businesses. Those costs have to be absorbed somehow — by raising prices (which hurts your competitiveness), or, more commonly, by reducing your workforce. Lowering the corporate tax rate would help offset the costs of raising the minimum wage, thereby helping employers absorb the cost — and not lay off workers.

The tragedy of the minimum wage is that it hurts the most vulnerable people in our society — those with few skills. This is especially true for younger, teenage workers who depend on low-skill jobs to learn the basics of having a job — showing up on time, taking responsibility, taking initiative. The teenage unemployment rate, especially among African-American teens, is staggering and in the vicinity of 45 percent, according to some studies.

Your example of Vermont's low unemployment rate and high minimum wage shows that they are not directly correlated. Indeed, employment rates are affected by many factors. But most studies have shown, overall, that raising the minimum wage does negatively impact employment, on average, especially among teens.

Now, to the solution. The Sun would "advocate ... rais[ing] it to a level that is both fair and prudent..." According to whom? Who sets the wage level? How do you determine a fair and prudent level given the consistently changing demand for labor among industries and seasonally? Do you tie it to the cost of living, or to the cost of labor? There's the devil in the details.

Artificially determined price levels always produce shortages or surpluses. I trust the market to determine wages much more than ivory tower economists or worse yet, politicians trying to get re-elected.

At the very least, if we must have a minimum wage, then I urge your pages to argue for a lower teen "sub-minimum" wage. That's a better way to help those most vulnerable to the unintended, tragic consequences of this well-intentioned policy.

Jake Vogelsang, Towson

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Free community college is a bad idea
    Free community college is a bad idea

    Free community college is another poorly thought idea from President Barack Obama ("Obama turns populist in State of the Union speech," Jan. 21). Am I against opening up the opportunity for many who cannot afford college? Absolutely not, but here is my concern. We already require K-12 education...

  • It's not the size of the government that's the problem
    It's not the size of the government that's the problem

    Some believe the central political issue of our era is the size of the government. They're wrong. The central issue is whom the government is for.

  • If the economy isn't as rosy as it should be, blame the GOP [Letter]
    If the economy isn't as rosy as it should be, blame the GOP [Letter]

    Commentator Peter Morici's recent column on President Barack Obama's job numbers is a real flight of fancy ("The economy under Obama is not as rosy as numbers suggest," Oct. 7).

  • How Republicans are ruining America
    How Republicans are ruining America

    On the national level, the cost of citizens not voting is quickly becoming apparent. Economically, the seeds of the next recession have been sown by the Republican weakening of financial controls so once again the greedy of Wall Street can gamble on dangerous financial derivatives with...

  • Regulate the banks
    Regulate the banks

    Dan Rodricks' recent column attributing amnesia to our Congress and president for dispensing with the requirement that big banks refrain from making risky investments with taxpayers' deposits was right on target ("For too many in Washington, a phantom recession," Dec. 21).

  • Milking the rich is not a solution
    Milking the rich is not a solution

    I was saddened and disappointed to read The Sun's editorial regarding President Barack Obama's State of the Union address ("Mr. Obama's tax plan," Jan. 21).

  • Mr. Obama's tax plan
    Mr. Obama's tax plan

    It's a pretty safe bet that Congress is not going to react to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address by immediately turning around and agreeing to his priorities like free community college and mandatory sick leave. When was the last time any presidential initiative got that kind...

  • Obama's middle class 'help' is useless
    Obama's middle class 'help' is useless

    All we hear from President Barack Obama is that he is for the middle class. Well, I consider myself middle class. I am a retired homeowner, so let's see how this pans out for me.

Comments
Loading