January 9, 2014

A Minimum Wage Q and A

With Connecticut and several other states raising their minimum wages at the start of 2014, a recent article in The Atlantic takes a “Q and A” approach to some of the burning issues that seem perpetually to surround minimum wage increases.  Among the questions asked and answered:
  • How many people earn the minimum wage? About 1.57 million Americans, or 2.1% of the hourly workforce, earned the minimum wage in 2012.  But a minimum wage increase could also lead to wage increases for around 11% of workers.
  • Are most minimum wage earners teenagers? About one-third of minimum wage workers are teenagers and 62% of minimum wage workers under age 25 are enrolled in some kind of schooling.  The average household income for minimum wage earners over 25 is $42,000 a year. 
  • Does a minimum wage increase kill jobs? After almost a century of debate, economists still have not come to any consensus on the issue.  In general, one side believes that an increase forces business to get thinner, while the other believes that an increase forces business to become more efficient.  Each side questions the other’s methodology.