Real beneficiaries of minimum wage increases are the 98.6% above the minimum wage

Pomerado News, Dear Editor:

Amy Roost: Raise the minimum wage to alleviate plight of poor

Amy Roost writes, “Can we stop pretending it’s still possible to live on minimum wage in this country?”

I’m sure Amy Roost believes she is doing something laudable but she might re-read Frederic Bastiat’s, “That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen.”

My first job as a teenager was delivering newspapers for the Union-Tribune and my friends worked at the Mobile and Union 76 gas stations pumping gas, checking oil, and washing windshields while an older friend operated the elevator at Walker Scott Department Store downtown.  Thanks to people like Amy millions of those “learning”  jobs across the country have disappeared.

What is unseen is that thousands of teenagers today with excess energy and no job resort to vandalism and commit petty crimes for pocket money.  People who come to this country without a high school education and don’t speak English can’t even get on the  job ladder because Amy’s friends have cut off the bottom rungs.

Irrefutable evidence from the Department of Labor shows that nearly every time the minimum wage was increased since 1948, unemployment increased. If you track the federal minimum wage, you’ll see that unemployment among teens, particularly minorities, increased from 9.4 percent among blacks in 1948 to 32.5 percent in 2004 (40.5%, March 2012) and from 10.2 percent for whites to 17.2 percent in 2004. Yes, blacks formerly had lower unemployment rates than whites. (Handbook of Labor Statistics, pp. 153-55). (40.5% –

It sounds great to say everyone should be paid more but if it means having no job instead of a low-paying “learning” wage job it’s not so great for people who need money.  If $10 an hour is good, why not advocate $100 or $1,000 per hour and feel really, really good.Chart courtesy of Mark Perry, University of Michigan.minwage

For the record, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 1.4% of wage earners in California earn the federal minimum wage or less, about 1/3 as many nationally.  In 2012, there were 3.6 million hourly paid workers in the United States with wages at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.  Sixty-three percent of minimum wage workers receive raises within one year and only 1% of all wage earners earned the minimum after 3 years. .  About 1/10 of minimum wage workers are heads of household and they qualify for the Earned, Income Tax Credit for additional income.

Also unseen is that the minimum wage is not about raising the wage of 1.4% of workers in California but it is driven by labor unions whose contracts give them a wage increase whenever the minimum wage increases.  The real beneficiaries of  minimum wage increases are the 98.6% above the minimum wage.  They no doubt love Amy.

If Amy truly believes what she wrote: “Most economists believe that the best way to alleviate the plight of the working poor is to raise the minimum wage, which is exactly what California did last week.” Then all China, India and African countries have to do is raise their minimum wage by government decree and they will be as rich as America.

And while Amy bemoans “American  “Exceptionalism”   means the fourth-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world” it also means the “The Richest Poor People in the world.”

Fred Schnaubelt Author, Romancing The Voters, Published July 4, 2013 from which part of this essay is taken


Follow Us | What’s New | Release Calendar | Site Map U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Table 3. Employed wage and salary workers paid hourly rates with earnings at or below the prevailing federal minimum wage by state, 2012 annual averages


Number of workers (in thousands)

Percent distribution

Percent of workers paid hourly rates

Total paid hourly rates

At or below minimum wage

Total paid hourly rates

At or below minimum wage

At or below minimum wage


At minimum wage

Below minimum wage


At minimum wage

Below minimum wage


At minimum wage

Below minimum wage

Total, 16 years and over
























“Never-married workers, who tend to be young, were more likely than married workers to earn the Federal minimum wage or less (about 9 percent versus about 2 percent).”




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