The Baltimore Sun

Minimum wage hike could cost poor jobs

Employers are already resisting "the impulse to lay off workers in the face of the current turmoil" ("A deepening crisis," editorial, Dec. 8), but additional challenges remain ahead.

President-elect Barack Obama has promised to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50, which means that many Maryland small businesses will have to make the difficult decision to let some employees go.

According to research conducted by an economist at the University of California at Irvine, minimum-wage hikes clearly reduce the employment of those with the fewest skills.

These negative effects are concentrated among the most vulnerable employees.

The study estimates that for every 10 percent minimum wage hike, employment for young black adults and teenagers falls 8.5 percent.

You don't have to be an economist to see the fallacy of a mandated wage increase: In a recession, a job at the previous minimum wage is much better than no job at a higher rate.

Tim Miller, Washington

The writer is communications director of the Employment Policies Institute.

Mandatory furloughs violate judges' rights

While it may be laudable for judges to voluntarily furlough themselves to aid the public treasury, Maryland law states that "a judge's salary may not be diminished during his continuance in office" ("Furlough, anyone?" editorial, Dec. 11).

A decrease is a decrease, and a mandatory furlough amounts to a pay cut.

I would doubt Chief Judge Robert M. Bell has the constitutional power to order judges to diminish their salaries.

Philip M. Wright, Elkridge

The writer is an attorney who practices in Baltimore.

City housing prices buck regional trend

Shouldn't the title of Thursday's article "House prices fall again" (Dec. 11) have read "House prices fall again; city bucks trend"?

The article provides plenty of gloom and doom about the local housing market. But the reality is that housing sale prices in Baltimore increased by 1.1 percent, which seems pretty amazing in this economic environment.

Why hide this in the article's last sentence?

Tom Kazmierczak, Baltimore

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