Letter: Minimum wage

April 21, 2013 

The Obama administration proposes raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9. Why not $100 or $1,000 per hour?

Answer: employers would lay off and not hire anyone who could not produce value enough to cover the wage expense. Most businesses would close their doors because of exorbitant labor costs.

Similarly, the current minimum of $7.25 makes unemployable those whose current job skills are too low for a willing employer to afford them at that rate. This "unemployment effect" will inevitably increase if the minimum rises to $9.

Those who suffer most are inexperienced, poorly educated young people, especially minorities. The minimum wage law bars such youngsters from getting that first job or trainee position, so many of them will be unemployed forever.

Economist Walter Williams, author of Race and Economics reports: "Black teen unemployment is about 40 percent; for whites, it is about 20 percent. The minimum wage law weighs heavily in this devastating picture."

Do we need a high minimum wage to prevent employers from "exploiting" workers? No. There is high competition among employers for skilled workers. So skilled workers demand and receive pay higher than the legal minimum.

DAVID BERGLAND, Kennewick

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