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Minimum wage increases will hurt the poor, minorities — Do supporters care?

Editors at Issues and Insights wonder why advocates of an increase in the government-mandated minimum wage ignore clear, convincing evidence of its ill effects.

Democrats like to talk about helping the “little guy” struggling to make it in an economically hostile world. But instead of providing help, their policies often punish the most vulnerable among us. So it is with the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as recent research shows.

Democrats have included a federal $15-an-hour minimum wage in the $1.9 trillion pork-a-palooza reconciliation bill they call “stimulus.” The left-media, predictably, have supported the idea. But a minimum wage hike is not stimulus. It is, in fact, a devastating blow to small, struggling businesses and, worst of all, for the poorest Americans; it’s a recipe for fewer jobs, lower incomes and lasting economic inequality. …

… [A]s policies go, the minimum wage is awful. While sounding as if it’s a great gift to working people (in polls, it routinely garners more than 50% approval), the minimum wage’s real beneficiary is one of the Democrats’ major financial backers: Organized labor.

Unions love minimum-wage hikes because many of their contracts have clauses that automatically raise union wages or allow the unions to renegotiate contracts when minimum wages go up.

So, not by coincidence, Democrats love minimum-wage hikes, too. Unfortunately, recent research has bad news for minimum-wage hike supporters.

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates the Democrats’ proposal will kill 1.4 million jobs. Meanwhile, this month, a CNBC/SurveyMonkey poll of small businesses showed that one-third said they would lay off workers if the minimum wage went to $15 an hour.

So while a handful of the best-trained, most-skilled people at small businesses, restaurants and big retail chains might see higher wages, any workers who aren’t worth $15 an hour will be let go.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...