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Higher minimum wage will kill jobs | READER COMMENTARY

Members of the Raise Maryland coalition successfully lobbied the General Assembly to increase the state's minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to the current $11.75. File. (Erin Cox/Baltimore Sun).
Members of the Raise Maryland coalition successfully lobbied the General Assembly to increase the state's minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to the current $11.75. File. (Erin Cox/Baltimore Sun). (Baltimore Sun photo by Erin Cox)

You are correct when you state in your recent editorial that the minimum wage was meant to protect workers and also that it should vary from state to state depending on the cost of living (”Higher federal minimum wage an essential part of COVID recovery,” Jan. 21). However, you also distort the minimum wage’s intent and ability to help workers as a whole.

Start with this: Minimum wage was not intended to be a living wage. It has traditionally been for entry level, inexperienced people who are getting started in the labor force or have a minimal skill set. It was not intended to support a household.

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In order to comply with a higher minimum wage, a business has two choices: cut hours or increase sales. Because the market for employees is competitive, many businesses already pay higher than minimum wage in order to retain them. If wages are forced higher and hours are cut, the gains for employees may suffer.

Furthermore, a business may freeze hiring. And keep in mind that the minimum wage level is just a floor from which all employees base their value. If the dishwasher makes $10 and the cook $15 per hour now, the cook will go to $20 or more when the dishwasher gets to $15. A wage hike will need to be spread throughout the entire staff. If sales can’t keep up with wages, the business may make layoffs or shut down.

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Your shot at President Donald Trump’s tax cuts only tells a part of the story. Yes, lowering the corporate tax rate benefited the wealthy. You left out that, during President Trump’s tenure, wages increased nationwide and unemployment rates dropped (pandemic aside). All the while, the federal minimum wage was unchanged.

President Joe Biden is on the right track when he talks about subsidizing child care so parents can join the workforce. Focusing on education and job training will also help. Raising the federal minimum wage will only burden small businesses already trying to stay afloat in a competitive labor environment.

Jeb Brownstein, Pikesville

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