Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office issued a report on what would likely happen to American labor markets if the federal minimum wage were increased from its current value of $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016. Two conclusions have received considerable attention in the press: (1) there would be 500k fewer jobs and (2) the number of persons living in poverty would fall by 900k.
It is easy to reconcile the two results. Some workers would get raises and there are enough workers making between $7.25 and $10.10 who will keep their jobs to offset the income loss associated with those who lose their jobs. Interestingly CBO notes that only 19% of the wage increases will go to persons who reside in households with a living standard below the poverty line. In contrast 30% of the wage increases will go to persons who reside in households with income three times higher (or more) than the poverty level; these would be secondary earners in such households.
The CBO analysis appears to omit to other key elements of a minimum wage increase: reduced profits of business owners (some of whom are struggling) and higher prices charged to customers.
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