Minimum Wage Advocates Miss the Mark Again

A recently released study shows that the cost of housing in Utah has been creeping up steadily and affordability for a 2-bedroom apartment now requires making just over $13/hr. Predictably, advocates of a higher minimum wage latched onto this to demand an immediate increase. Sadly, they are still totally missing the mark in their supposed quest to aid the poor.

Increasing the price of unskilled labor (which minimum wage is) would be a horrible thing to do to the poor in our state. Not only do you grip them in the vices of inflation, but the middle class is unlikely to see much of that raise in their paychecks, diminishing their purchasing power. Instead of finding a way to get the poor people out of those dead-end jobs and into well-paying ones (all of the positions in my job hunt last year started at $14+ per hour), they propose keeping them as a member of the underclass.

If these advocates actually cared about improving the plight of the poor, they'd spend less time commissioning wonky studies and holding press conferences and more time providing these folks with job skills to be valuable in the workplace. Take all of that time and money spend on lobbying and open up a job training center. That will do more to improve the conditions of low-paid workers than any increase in minimum wage ever could. The long-term benefits of job training far outweigh the fleeting pittance of minimum wage increases.

Meanwhile, the Governor's year-long study on minimum wage earners turned up what the BLS could already tell us: the average minimum wage earner is a young white male in his early 20s. It also reveals that of the 16,600 people earning minimum wage or less, 3/4 of them are tipped employees who make far more than minimum wage from this additional income. This leaves *drumroll* about 4,000 people in this state earning minimum wage or less. (I've already talked at length several times about how raising the minimum wage won't fix anything.)

I'm hoping this pig of an idea continues to die before it hits the floor at the Legislature.

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6 Responses

  1. Kristi says:

    I love the book “nickle and dimed” about how it really is impossible to live on minimum wage. And it is. But you know what, it really doesn’t matter how much you make. I’ve worked at 5.45/hr 7.50/hr and even 10.60/hr. I still lived paycheck to paycheck. Why? Mindset. Education. Most Americans, regarless of income, say they’d be better off if they just made $10k more/year. And after they get that raise they still say it.
    I don’t want to post a book, but I agree, raising it just throws money at a problem that isn’t actually about money.
    As far as affordable housing, that’s the cities fault. Not a single city in Utah has the required “affordable” housing it’s suposed to because of zoning ordinances they pass. This where that state needs to step in and enforce the law.

  2. Kristi says:

    Oh, and I really just love when you post stuff like this. I gets me really excited for grad school (this is what I want to study).

  3. Dan says:

    I got paid didly squat in Utah, and could never get ahead. I could not afford to pay for my own schooling and had to get loans, and now I’m in debt. Thanks Utah! I’m glad some are seeing that you need to increase the minimum wage so that people can get what they need to progress.

  4. Jesse says:

    Yep, this is exactly the problem: minimum wage advocates have completely lost sight of what minimum wage is.

    Minimum wage is the price of unskilled labor. It’s a job that anyone could do without needing any particular skillset, experience, or level of education. It is meant to pay for the most basic of necessities for a single person and that’s about it. While you may not like it, it is not nor ever has been intended to provide for a family, pay for full-time college courses, or be a so-called “living wage”.

    While the “starving student” scenario draws some sympathy, there are a great many options available to someone determined to get an education. Obviously, there are scholarships and grants all over the place. You can cut back to a part-time schedule or complete required coursework in a cheaper community college.

    Ms. Zundell in the linked post apparently thought she was entitled to doing a four-year degree in four years paying out-of-state tuition at an expensive college without having to work her tail off to pay for it or use any scholarships and grants. Sorry, lady, but the real world doesn’t work that way. If she wants to not work her tail off, she should’ve thought of ways to compromise her other requirements to accomplish it.

    My parents worked their butts off to pay for school and complete bachelor’s degrees while having and raising children. We were dirt poor until I was in junior high school because of it, but they never complained that it was just too much. I don’t think things have gotten so bad in 25-30 years that a single person with no family can’t do the same thing or better. We’re just too much of an entitlement generation, thinking the world somehow owes us.

    So what good does raising the floor do? It doesn’t solve the root of the problem which is a lack of skills and education. The poor stay poor and the self-appointed “advocates” get to slap each other on the back on job poorly done. Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.

  5. Dan says:

    Is the problem really a lack of skills and education? To get those skills and education, one needs money, doesn’t he?

  6. Jesse says:

    All of the numbers I’ve seen show that college grads and skilled laborers make a lot more than those without degrees and skills. This is common knowledge. You don’t necessarily need money to get skills or education either. I spent squadoo on post-secondary education and I earn several times minimum wage in a professional job. Same deal with my wife.

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