Knowing that an increase in the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is likely and probably imminent, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry went beyond scraping at the bottom of the barrel to chiseling their way through the floor that barrel sits on when it came to crafting an argument against the minimum wage increase. For the hearing the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry submitted a 12 page document called “Unintended Consequences of Mandated Wage Hikes Include Job Loss,” and Alex Halper, the lobbyist testifying for the business friendly organization, threw a large floppy red herring into the fray.
According to Halper and the Chamber, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should keep tens of thousands of working class families in poverty because of the already high youth unemployment in inner cities. Halper claims that raising the minimum wage will keep minority youths unemployed, which will then cause more violence in places like
Baltimore Philadelphia. To back up his claim, Halper cited a recycled oped from the last time Pennsylvania went to raise the minimum wage. In the testimony, the Chamber stated:
The unintended negative consequences of mandating an increase to entry-level wages go further and an impact with critical short- and long-term implications is being felt especially in the city of Philadelphia. An April 6, 2007 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer stated: “One consequence of January’s increase in the minimum wage – from $6.25 to $7.15 an hour – is the threat it poses to summer jobs for youth. As salaries rise, the number of jobs comes down…”6 The article went on to explain that, in the summer of 2006, the nonprofit Philadelphia Youth Network facilitated summer jobs for thousands of young people between the ages of 14 and 21. However, with the minimum wage increase making it more difficult for businesses to hire, an estimated 1,100 young people would not be able to find summer jobs.
And at the hearing, Halper rehashed these same sentiments. Listen to audio below.
Does this point have validity? Possibly. But this red herring a lame excuse that goes against the greater good of lifting tens of thousands of families out of poverty and starvation wages. Whenever a minimum wage increase is being considered, this excuse is brought up by business friendly or conservative institutions. Recently, the Washington Examiner and the Washington Policy Center out of Washington State both used this scare tactic in opposition of a minimum wage increase.
In reality, increasing the minimum wage will be a large benefit to minority communities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 10 million members of the African American community will benefit from a wage increase, with 5.8 million of those being women. The same can be said for members of the Latino community. Over 15 million Latinos will witness a wage bump and 6.6 million of those include women.
For a complete play by play blow of yesterday’s minimum wage hearing, listen to Mark Price from the Keystone Research Center talk with Rick Smith.