Raising the Minimum Wage for Working Men and Women in California and the Rest of America

CBO Report Estimates Job Losses from Wage Hike, Even as Walmart Signals Possible Shift

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The always murky economics of a minimum wage hike became more muddled this week when the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday projected that 500,000 people might lost their jobs if Congress raises the minimum wage to $10.10. On the plus side, the CBO found that the wage hike would lift about 900,000 out of poverty.

Whether or not the economics of the wage hike make sense, the politics are clearly on the side of raising the minimum. Polls have repeatedly verified that large majorities favor higher minimums, including one poll in December by Quinnipiac University that found a majority of Republicans in support.

Corporations are also feeling pressure. Wednesday, Bloomberg reported thatWalmart is considering throwing its support behind a minimum wage hike — a potential major breach in the wall of opposition from low-wage employers. The tentative shift from Walmart came less than a week after California-based minimum wage activist Ron Unz had called the company out in a Forbes piecearguing that the chain would benefit form a higher minimum wage.

Walmart spokesman David Tovar told Bloomberg that the company thought that their customers might actually have more to spend at the store if wages went up: “That’s something we’re looking at,” he said, adding that they have not yet decided.

Unz applauded the Walmart move in an interview this week, and he also downplayed the CBO’s job loss projections. “For every job lost, there are probably around 40-50 who would get a major wage increase,” said the California Republican now leading the fight to raise the minimum wage in his home state. By late in the week, however, Walmart was backtracking.

Still, Unz is pleased with the momentary breach in the wall.

“Only people directly affected by it are the working poor,” Unz said. “Most of them would get huge wage increases. A few would lose their jobs, but the working poor support a minimum wage increase by 95 percent. Why should others block it if they are not the ones directly affected?”

• Category: National • Tags: Eric Schulzke