Minimum wage increase lacks merit
October 8, 2004
If Nevadans support a $1 higher minimum wage on the ballot in November, don’t expect to be seeing a raise anytime soon. It’ll be 2007 by the time it takes effect, a decade after the federal minimum wage was set at $5.15.
We see the arguments both for and against raising the minimum wage, which is Question 6 on the ballot, but we’re unconvinced Nevada needs one.
Frankly, the marketplace in this state has long since left the federal minimum wage in the dust. And it surely will leave a $6.15 wage long gone by 2007 – barring a catastrophe or recession or other economic crisis.
And that is the point with wages. They’re a function of the marketplace, with little reason for government to interfere.
One curious argument in favor of raising the minimum wage says people making $5.15 an hour would actually get more money if they were on welfare. This is hardly a convincing case for the role of government in redistributing wealth.
Most of the arguments center on whether raising the minimum wage will “lift all boats,” pushing $7 an hour jobs to $8, and $8 jobs to $9. Or will it mean employers must cut back on the number of people they employ in order to give few workers a small raise?
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The truth is that everybody would like to have a raise, but few people or businesses in Nevada will be directly affected by an increase. The rest is largely speculation. Is there some compelling reason Nevada’s minimum wage should be $1 higher than the federal minimum?
We agree that $10,712 in annual compensation – the salary of a full-time minimum-wage worker – is less than subsistence. But low-paying jobs are entry-level positions, where the worker earns not just a wage but an opportunity to learn skills and advance on merit.
Ordering a $1 raise in Nevada seems to be more arbitrary than meritorious.
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