Editorial: Raising the minimum wage hurts young workers

Leah Ulatowski & Amanda Smith, Editorial Staff

The recent election in Wisconsin caused the topic of raising the minimum wage to resurface. According to MSNBC, Wisconsin voters in nine counties approved a non-binding referendum indicating their support for raising the state minimum wage from $7.25 (the federal minimum) to $10.10. On a national level, many have advocated raising the federal minimum wage to $15 or $20. However, as college students who earn the minimum wage, we believe that even raising it to $10.10 could be more detrimental to our state’s economy than many believe.

While it looks great in theory, the reality is that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss. After all, the money has to come from somewhere, so it increases labor costs for employers. Companies will proceed to reduce their workforces and cut hours, and not because they are evil people but rather due to the fact that employers need to make difficult decisions when working with limited resources. Logically, in the long run, it would be cheaper for them to invest in machinery for customers to type their McDonald’s orders into, and employers will not hesitate to make those calls.

Considering the above, the people who stand to lose the most as a result of such a decision are entry-level workers in their late teens to early twenties. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 1.1 percent of workers over age 25 earn the minimum wage. While the media likes to pick out the rare example of a single parent raising six children on the minimum wage, these individuals are the exception rather than the norm.

For the most part, the minimum wage provides entry-level positions for young adults, such as Lakeland students, to boost their resumes and earn extra money to supplement the financial help that most still receive from their parents. In raising the minimum wage, young adults will lose the opportunity to gain job experience because employers will hire machines or cut positions.

In a perfect world, everyone would love to raise the minimum wage and ensure that even teenage workers have enough money to achieve independence at an earlier age, but with the limited resources and tough decisions that come with reality, we believe that it would benefit minimum wage workers far more to keep the current amount.


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