- According to one survey, the best estimates of the minimum wage effect for young workers are that 10 percent increases in the minimum reduce employment by 1 to 2 percent.
- Increases in the minimum wage are routinely supported by overwhelming majorities in public opinion polls. Most Americans believe the government should make sure that full-time workers do not live in poverty.
- The 1996-1997 increase helped to raise the earnings of poor workers, and to lower the poverty rates. In addition, there is no evidence of any negative employment impacts. To the contrary, the low-wage labor market is tighter now than it has been in three decades. Unemployment rates of low-wage workers stand at 30-year lows. Employment rates of women leaving welfare to work are at record highs. These facts clearly support the contention that if Congress wants to make work pay, the current proposal to increase the minimum wage makes sense.
- The point should be that the minimum wage is not targeted only at poor workers, but at low-wage workers in general, and most low-wage workers reside in low-income families. Over 70 percent of these workers are adults. Sixty percent are women. About half work full-time and they are disproportionately minority. . . The average minimum wage worker brings home over half of their family's weekly earnings.
- (W)hat I am saying is that these businesses do not provide health insurance, and they do not provide pensions. So, the government, eventually, has to provide the healthcare for the people that they are exploiting, and also has to provide retirement for those people. I think that is what is sinister, not the fact that some of us want to raise the minimum wage so that people can live in decency.
- I look at the panel and I wonder how many of them are really on a first-name basis with poverty. I don't believe any of them are really, to tell you the truth, from what I have heard here today. But I have a hard time swallowing the logic that increasing the minimum wage has a negative impact. Now, I have been in Congress 17 years, and I have seen it increase several times, and never, never did I see the signs in those fast-food joints go down that say ``employment needed.'' I haven't seen signs going down in a lot of those kinds of work that are low paying jobs. They were still hiring even though they paid more.
- They go to work every morning where they sweep floors, sack groceries, cut lawns, or do any number of jobs that are low-paying. And then after work all day, just like the rest of America, they return to a house that is falling down. They eat the cheapest food they can find. They sit on second-hand furniture, and if they are lucky, they can sit back, and relax, and contemplate the American dream, and what a joke it is for them.
- Despite that obvious difficult existence, we sit here today discussing whether or not we should add $1, one lousy dollar, to the minimum wage. I think that is a shame.
- Dr. Bernstein. Well, I just want to say that the minimum wage was established by Congress to set the wage floor on the labor market, because low-wage workers have the least bargaining power of any group of workers in this economy. Without a minimum wage, their rates of pay will just decline year after year, being eroded by inflation. So, I don't think you are asking that question of whether there should be a minimum wage. I hope you are saying that there should be a minimum wage, but are asking how high it should be?
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