Top Ten Arguments for
Raising the Minimum Wage
By Bill Quigley
March 16, 2015 "ICH"
Seven Nobel Laureates in Economics endorse
the higher minimum wage to $10.10 by
2016, saying it does not lead to lower fewer
Job losses from raising the minimum wage are
negligible. Minimum wage has already
been raised 23 times. Every time it was
raised it was opposed by some few who said
"it is going to lose jobs and wreck the
economy" which is factually untrue as study
after study has proven.
Three. It is a myth that
small business owners can't afford to pay
their workers more, and therefore don't
support an increase in the minimum wage. In
fact, a June 2014 survey found that
more than 3 out of 5 small business owners
support increasing the minimum wage to
Four. The value of the
minimum wage has fallen dramatically. Since
the minimum wage was last raised in 2009,
price of apples went up 16%, bacon 67%,
cheddar cheese 21%, coffee 27%, ground beef
39%, and milk 21%. The minimum wage went
up 0%. Plus, in the 1960s the minimum wage
was essentially half the average wage. If
that was still the case
it would be $12.50 an hour.
Five. Saying we have a
"free market" that will take care of workers
is a myth. No corporations rely on the
mythical "free market," why should workers?
Corporations lobby like crazy all the time
in Washington DC and before every state and
local government for direct and indirect
public assistance. All levels of government
widespread corporate welfare so why not
provide some help to low wage workers? The
Wall Street bailout cost over $200 billion.
Fifty billionaires received taxpayer funded
farm subsidies in past 2 decades. Corporate
jet subsidy is $3 billion a year. Special
tax breaks for hedge fund managers allow
them to pay only 15% tax rate, while the
people they invest for pay twice that much
and their secretaries pay a higher
percentage. The home mortgage deduction is
$70 billion a year, with 77% going to people
with incomes of over $100,000 per year.
Giving workers more money is small potatoes
compared with what corporations and the rich
are receiving all the time.
Six. In fact, one way to
look at this is that low minimum wage laws
are government subsidies to low wage
businesses. What do working people do if
they do not have enough to eat or get sick
or need housing? They turn to government for
public benefits. For example in the fast
food industry alone research by the
University of Illinois and UC Berkeley
documents that taxpayers pay about $243
billion each year in indirect subsidies
to the fast food industry because they pay
wages so low that taxpayers must put up $243
billion to pay for public benefits for their
Seven. There is widespread
religious support for living wages.
Catholic support for living wages has been
taught since 1891. In 1940, US Catholic
Bishops stated: "The first claims of labor,
WHICH TAKES PRIORITY OVER ANY CLAIMS OF THE
OWNERS TO PROFITS, respects the right to a
living wage." Protestant churches were first
on the record for living wages since 1908.
Religious support for living wages has a
long history and has been recently been
reaffirmed by the
Episcopal Church, the Jewish Council of
Public Affairs, the Presbyterian Church, the
Unitarian Universalist Association and the
United Methodist Church.
Eight. Worker productivity
has gone up much faster than wages. Workers
are already much more productive. Using the
1968 minimum wage as benchmark,
if minimum wage grew at same rate as worker
productivity it would have reached $21.72
Nine. It is a myth that
the minimum wage is only for teens and entry
level workers. Raising the minimum wage to
$10 would impact over 15 million workers.
4.7 million working moms would get a raise
if we raise it to $10.10. As would 2.6
million working dads for a total of 7
Ten. There is widespread
bipartisan support for raising the minimum
wage.In a 2015 poll,
75% of Americans, including 53% of
Republicans, support raising the minimum
wage to $12.50 by 2020.
Bonus point. You know the
minimum wage is too low when....WALMART
announces it will raise its minimum wage to
$10 an hour by February next year.
President Franklin Roosevelt said in 1933:
"No business which depends for existence on
paying less than living wages to its workers
has any right to continue in this country."
Bill Quigley is
Law Professor, Loyola University New
Orleans, CCR Associate Legal Director