Last week, a government agency reported that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could mean 500,000 fewer jobs nationwide. That revved up opponents and hurt prospects for an increase this year.
But the report also estimated that 16.5 million low-paid workers would earn more weekly pay and 900,000 would be lifted from poverty. Ripple effects would help even more.
The upshot is that raising the minimum wage has costs and benefits, as with any public policy.
Critics routinely yell “job killer” about government proposals. Even if the charge is accurate and relevant, as with the minimum wage, it shouldn’t trump all.
A lower minimum wage of $9 would reduce the job hit and have a smaller impact on pay and poverty. Indexing the wage to inflation has pros and cons. And many economists prefer a bigger earned income credit to help the poor.
All that’s worth talking about. So last week’s analysis by the Congressional Budget Office should push the debate forward, not end it.