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Mullin' It Over Column

Mullin It Over: The Truth Behind the Minimum Wage

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Washington, August 28, 2019 | comments

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, establishing a minimum wage was one of the main ideas that activist groups had to end sweatshops, where workers were being forced to work in terrible conditions for low wages.

The federal minimum wage in the United States has been in place since 1938, when Congress passed and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act. It was originally set at $0.25 per hour and has been raised 22 times, most recently in July 2009 to $7.25 per hour.

Earlier this year, Pelosi Democrats passed H.R. 582, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. We have seen record low unemployment rates and historic economic growth under President Trump, but this one-size-fits-all legislation would take all of that away. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that if their bill was signed into law, it would kill 3.7 million jobs. That would be the equivalent of every person in the entire state of Oklahoma being told “you’re fired.”

The effects of raising the minimum wage are not only hypothetical. Some states and cities have already seen the detrimental effects of raising the minimum wage. A study of Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance concluded that the wage increase to $13 an hour ultimately reduced hours for people who worked in low-wage jobs, resulting in a lower monthly income. The higher wage ended up hurting lower income employees more than it helped.

Employees are the ones who set the price and drive the job market. The unemployment rate in the United States is currently 3.7 percent and wages have been rising on their own. Employers are competing to get the best employees and are paying higher wages to recruit the top talent.

We all want Americans to have good-paying jobs, but raising the minimum wage is not the answer. With 6.9 million open jobs in our country, we should provide people with the education and resources they need to succeed. The market should determine what people are paid for their work, not the federal government.

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