A Strategic Political Argument for the Minimum Wage

01 Sep 2014 9:57 AM | Deleted user

The minimum wage has long been thought of as an issue that only affects the low-wage labor market, i.e. the working poor. Broader construction of the minimum wage population, however, shows that not to be the case. When the minimum wage labor market is defined as the effective minimum wage population undefined those who earn around the minimum rather than those who earn the statutory minimum undefined the proportion earning an effective minimum wage is considerably larger.

Moreover, if we understand that an increase in the statutory minimum wage can ripple upwards through the wage distribution, we can then understand that the minimum wage is ultimately about helping the middle class.

As much as bolstering the middle class is important because increased purchasing power will boost the economy by increasing aggregate demand for goods and services, the middle class argument needs to be the centerpiece of a political strategy to increase the minimum wage. For too long the debate surrounding the minimum wage has manifested itself in a side show between those arguing the adverse employment consequences specifically for teenagers and those arguing the benefits to specifically the poor. Herein lies the problem. Politically speaking it is a non-issue.

 

Editor's Note: For more, read the original article in the Labor Press. He is a regular contributor. Visit his archive of Labor Press articles here.
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