Should we raise the minimum wage? The editors at Bloomberg think so. They maintain that low-wage jobs are expanding and that a minimum wage hike would boost the economy. Despite these notions, hiking the minimum wage remains a bad idea.
Bloomberg first laments that low-wage jobs are becoming the norm: “It’s also becoming clear that many Americans are being forced to take lower-paying jobs and that a low-wage bias is creeping into the economy.”
However, the percentage of minimum wage jobs has declined. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 5.2 percent of all hourly paid workers in the U.S. make the minimum wage, which is a smaller percentage than in 1979:
The proportion of hourly-paid workers earning the prevailing Federal minimum wage or less declined from 6.0 percent in 2010 to 5.2 percent in 2011. This remains well below the figure of 13.4 percent in 1979.
Even fewer adults work in minimum-wage jobs full time. Most minimum-wage workers are 25 or younger, and 69 percent work part time. The typical minimum-wage employee is a high school or college student with a part-time job, a major reason so many have attended—but not completed—college.
The primary value of these jobs is not the low wages they pay today. It is the on-the-job training they provide. Minimum-wage jobs teach inexperienced workers basic employability skills such as taking directions from a boss and working with co-workers. Acquiring these skills makes minimum-wage workers more productive and enables them to earn raises. Two-thirds of minimum-wage workers earn raises within a year. More