24th February 2013
Don Boudreaux, a Real Economist, elaborates.
Many people – including a seemingly growing number of economists – intuitively sense that a mandated higher minimum-wage will have little or no negative impact on unskilled-workers’ employment options. For the person-in-the-street, this intuition, I suspect, springs from the common perception that employers generally have some sort of undue power over both workers and consumers and, as a result of that power, rake in excess profits. These profits can therefore be tapped into by government diktats such as minimum-wage legislation without causing employers to adjust their operations in response. For example, a minimum-wate diktat simply effects a redistribution of wealth; employees’ gains are employers’ losses, but losses only of some surplus that serves no economic function.
The intuition of economists who support the legislated minimum-wage is not much different from that of the person-in-the-street, although it is expressed more analytically.
My suspicion – and that is all it is, a suspicion – is that some of the more thoughtful proponents of the minimum-wage would pause to realize that, when seen as a a kind of tax upon the employment of unskilled workers, a minimum-wage hike might not be so lacking in negative consequences after all.