Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Eno: Minimum wage hike hurts the most vulnerable (column)

3:51 PM, Apr. 19, 2013  |  Comments
Minimum wage increases may not help marginal workers.
Minimum wage increases may not help marginal workers.
  • Filed Under

In President Obama's State of the Union address and now in his newly released budget, he calls for an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 per hour. Some progressives have proposed increases to more than $10 per hour.

These progressives leave out those in our society who cannot do everything that the "normal person" can do. The handicapped and disadvantaged need part-time work also. They need the social contact and satisfaction a part-time job provides them. They need to be exposed to the working world, people around them and how they can be a productive member of society.

Our family includes a multiply handicapped person. She has been handicapped since birth and cannot, because of her impairments and health, work a full-time job. She has been employed in the fast food industry for 25 years, mostly at a minimum wage. She has been very happy. She worked two to four hours daily, usually five days a week.

When the minimum wage was increased, her hours were cut. Each time the minimum wage increased, her hours were cut back until now she works only one or two days a week. Sometimes, when business is down, she is not given any time to work. She loves her work and loves the people she works with. She enjoys the customers and they appreciate her, as she helps the senior citizens with their trays, helping them to a table.

A minimum wage hike means less work for my daughter and people like her, yet these people, it seems, are overlooked by progressives and the president. This is simply wrong.

Debunking myths

One critical issue that is overlooked or deliberately deleted from the discussion is that every job in our country has an economic value, a maximum wage. That value is how much an employee can produce with their education, training and experience and how much the employer can pay. Logical, commonsense thinking is that the minimum-wage position is a starting wage point. As employees gather experience and learn their jobs, they can progress to more responsibility or full-time work where the person can produce more and receive more pay.

Research into minimum-wage increases has shown they can reduce the number of entry-level minimum wage jobs available, actually hurting many of workers proponents want to help - just as they hurt my daughter, and so many other impaired people like her.

There are five myths that must be debunked.

Myth No. 1: There are hordes of minimum wage workers. Just 2.9 percent of all workers in the United States earn minimum wage.

Myth No. 2: The "working poor" are working for minimum wage. More than half of minimum-wage workers are between the ages of 16 and 24. These young people tend to work part-time, and a majority of them are enrolled in school at the same time. A hike in the minimum wage primarily raises pay for suburban teenagers, not the working poor. The truth is, most of America's poor aren't "working poor" at all. Most poor Americans do not work at all.

Myth No. 3: Minimum wage workers are trapped in poverty. The average family income of a minimum-wage worker is more than $53,000 a year. That's because few workers with minimum-wage are the primary earners in their families.

Myth No. 4: There are lifelong minimum wage earners. Very, very few minimum wage earners stay in those jobs forever. It's easy to get the idea from the president and the politicians that "minimum-wage earners" are a permanent class of people. Yes, there are few, like our handicapped daughter, and there could be more who need jobs. But most of the minimum-wage earners gain experience and employment skills, become more productive and can command higher wages.

Myth No. 5: There are many single parents on minimum wage. Very few single parents are working full-time in minimum-wage jobs. Unfortunately, the president and our politicians overuse that example. Because so many minimum-wage workers are secondary earners, only 4 percent of minimum wage earners - who are 2.9 percent of workers - are single parents.

Won't help poor

Please do not be fooled by these myths. A higher minimum wage will help some workers, but few of them are poor. The larger effect is to hurt the ability of potential workers, those living in poverty and the handicapped to get their foot in the door of employment. A wage hike might help the president and politicians win plaudits from the mainstream media, but it will not reduce poverty rates.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
573 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
855 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1013 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1270 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports

ORDER YOURS

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports