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Guest view: An argument against minimum wage

Published: Friday, May 10, 2013 5:15 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 10:00 p.m. CST

Note to Readers: Hinsdale Central High School students wrote two editorials as part of their general economics course during their study of microeconomics this school year. They were learning about the positive and negative effects of government involvement in labor markets. Find the argument for minimum wage here.

Poverty is a pressing issue afflicting our society. Many Americans today believe that one way to address it is by increasing the minimum wage. Some believe that a lot of people in our country today work hard but still cannot afford some life essentials, such as food, healthcare, child care, etc. Therefore, liberal America wants to impose a law that would demand all workers receive a “living wage” that provides workers money to support themselves and their family.

Poverty needs to be addressed, but not by mandating a “living wage.” Idealistically, the minimum wage appears to be a good idea; practically, it has not worked.

Most people think of single mothers struggling to get by as the main recipients of minimum wage. In reality, the largest demographic of minimum-wage recipients are 16- to 24-year-olds and middle-class youths. Minimum-wage laws are not needed for this group.

The majority of people in this group: 1) Do not have a family to support; 2) Most are already supported by their parent(s). Why do we have a law that primarily supports a group that does not need it?

A large number of American youth will start looking for jobs, but if there is a minimum-wage increase, fewer jobs will be available. Also, because companies will be required by law to pay these individuals more than before, they will be looking for people with more experience.

Many people in our age group voted for a president who believes in raising the minimum wage. This is illogical because in the long run, the minimum wage hurts us — the youth of society — the most.

Even though many people start on the bottom of the ladder making minimum wage, most people eventually will make their way up and receive a better paycheck.

One of the most important aspects of a minimum-wage job, however, is not the money one earns, but the experience he or she receives from the job. Most minimum-wage jobs teach life skills that will be necessary in future jobs. A minimum-wage law will make it extremely difficult for anyone starting out to get a job and gain the necessary skills. Many businesses will not have the finances to hire new people.

The minimum wage clearly reduces employment opportunities and hurts people looking to improve their situation in life.

Student authors Kevin Bonyko, Katie Fitzgerald, Olivia McGrory and Peter Nelson of Hinsdale Central High School contributed to this column

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