Symposium 2016: Minimum wage laws were passed in a number of states during the last election to raise the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, and a national campaign has been initiated to institute a $15 an hour minimum. Will these increases be detrimental to jobs and job security?

Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent- Will it hurt job security? I would say probably. Here is the issue here, rather than paying their workers a higher dollar amount some companies will probably just automate their process more. Companies who can’t afford to automate will either pay the going rate, slim down their company, put more people on salary and work them harder, or close. There are too many scenarios here.

I’m going to be honest though. I’m not so worried about job security as I am paying $10 for a loaf of bread and $12 for a gallon of milk. Many say it won’t happen but let’s do the math here. Imagine everything that goes into getting a loaf of bread in your hands. A factory bakes the bread and cuts it mostly automated but the people that ARE there get a raise. Those people also use rubber gloves, lab coats, and hair nets. All the people who made those also get a raise which makes the cost to produce the bread go up just a little. Now someone has to get the bread to the store. The driver of the truck probably wears a company jacket. The zippers on those jackets are now up in cost since we have to pay workers more. So now the cost of delivery is up. Once it’s in the store someone stocks it, and someone rings it up. All this little stuff adds up. Now bread costs $10 a loaf.

Why don’t we just have employers pay a decent honest living wage. You want to make more you start at the bottom work hard and stay with the company and you can move up in ranks!

 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent- While a minimum wage sounds good on paper, simple economics and the laws of supply and demand tell us that a mandated wage can’t possibly have a positive effect on the overall job situation.

Economics teaches us that everything has a cost, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and wages are merely one component of a business’s expenses. Raising wages to some or all employees means that money must either be diverted from another expense category of the business, or prices to consumers must be raised to offset wage increases. If neither of those things happens, the business may become unprofitable and ultimately close, which would put not only the minimum wage workers out of a job but cost all the workers in that business their jobs.

If there is an across the board increase in minimum wages and all businesses respond by increasing prices to the consumers of their goods, then the cost of everything goes up proportionately, and minimum wage earners are no richer than they were when they earned lower wages.

Requiring higher minimum wages can also cause employers to find alternative means of production of their products so they can keep costs down to their consumers. One way is by outsourcing labor to countries with lower average wages. We’ve seen this in recent decades with the advent of globalization and increased development of third world countries. If it is cheaper for an employer to pay workers in Mexico to produce goods for the business, including the increased shipping and other related costs, the business will do so, and the American worker will lose that job.

Automation is the other method by which employers will seek to replace workers and keep production costs under control. Replacing three assembly-line employees in an auto manufacturing plant with a robot that can work twenty-four hours per day and doesn’t need health insurance, sick pay, and vacation benefits may be more cost effective.

If minimum wage laws actually worked to lift people out of poverty and enable them to enjoy at least a middle-class lifestyle, then why hasn’t the minimum wage been set at $500 per hour so that everyone working forty hours per week earns at least a million dollars per year? Answer: because there would either be no jobs left in America because we’ll have priced ourselves out of the global marketplace, or inflation would be so hyperactive as to render one million dollars nearly worthless.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- Minimum wage increases will be detrimental to jobs and job security.  Whether potential workers will be hired at minimum wage pay rates will depend on what part of the country or area where the new wage levels have been implemented into law. Actual employment will also depend on whether there is a surplus of jobs or limited job opportunities in these areas.  Usually when there is an oversupply of jobs available in a community, and wages across the board are higher in all lines of work, the cost of living is higher, and there are other industries to support both continued and future employment, minimum wage increases are not as serious of an issue. If a part of the country or state is troubled by no supportive industries, lower population, low growth, no growth, limited outlets for probable employment, and lower costs of living, then minimum wage increases are going to be troubling.

The simple fact is that when prices increase on something what usually follows is a lower volume of purchases on the product or thing.  The same principle applies to an increase in wages for low-skilled labor, which usually leads to employers not hiring low-skilled labor.

With a higher minimum wage there will simply be less low-skilled employment available as opposed to employment availability with little to no increases in the minimum wage. Employers are simply not going to hire lower skilled workers at higher pay rates.  Employers will do without extra employees,  double up with the workers that are already on the job,  make full time employees go part-time,  will let employees go, or in some cases, will close a business altogether.

If a town or city has a high level of employment and a booming economy, employment and hours of work are going to climb, but that doesn’t necessarily hold true for all areas.  In some cases where the minimum wage is raised, rates of employment and hours worked are going to diminish and actual employment possibilities are going to diminish. In the end, potential employees lose out due to the higher minimum wage.

Increasing the minimum wage is a nice concept on the surface as everyone would like workers to make more money, but the issue is where the extra money is going to come from to pay increased wages, especially in businesses and industries with lower profit margins, such as fast food restaurants where lower-skilled workers are employed.  If business owners and managers have to significantly increase labor costs, jobs are likely going to be eliminated and no one will receive the benefits of a pay increase or any kind of job security.

Again, geographical location and a robust economy come into play when factors like cost of living and wage distribution are added to the picture.  In an area where wages are already high, a higher minimum wage will cost employers less; whereas an area where wages are already low , a higher minimum wage will cost many their jobs or little to no employment.

These new minimum wage increases in states around the country will definitely displace a number of workers, particularly in areas where low wages are already the norm. Those that advocate and have put higher minimum wages into effect need to understand how low-skilled workers and employers are impacted by higher minimum wage levels.  Higher pay doesn’t necessarily mean long term employment or job security.

 

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- The minimum wage increases are a feel-good initiative that will have very little impact in the long run either on the wage earners or the wage payers.  Prices will increase incrementally to soak up the increased money spent on salaries, and the minimum wage populous, given more money without the education on what to do with it, will continue to squander their earnings on ephemera and Taco Bell.  The only thing that troubles me is the socialist underpinnings of the minimum wage-raise movement, the attitude of taking from the rich and giving to the poor that has failed to work since Robin of Locksley discovered that the peasants to whom he gave the sheriff’s gold were spending it betting on the ponies and hiring wenches.  A rising tide lifts all boats, and attempts to even the tide out so smaller boats rise higher never work.

 

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