Minimum wage hike not likely to pass


    By David Kimball

    For the first time in a decade, a congressional House panel voted Tuesday (June 13, 2006) to approve a minimum wage increase from $5.15 to $7.25, but Americans are not likely to experience the hike any time soon.

    The Associated Press reported even though the Appropriations Committee added the wage increase as an amendment to a bill funding health and education programs, the House will likely strip it from the bill when the bill reaches the floor.

    Generally, Republicans argue a minimum wage hike would lead to inflation and job loss while Democrats say a minimum wage hike is necessary to maintain at least a minimum standard of living for those with low-wage jobs.

    The Associated Press reported, however, that seven Republican Appropriations Committee members voted with Democrats, providing the number of votes needed for the motion to pass.

    Jeremy Pope, a BYU professor of political science, said the issue is not a major one, but it does affect Democratic constituencies like labor and other interest groups.

    “What I know of the evidence suggests that there would be some job losses [if the increase passed],” Pope said, but “those who retained their minimum wage jobs would obviously be slightly better off in the short term,” he said.

    Although both Democrats and Republicans strive to make convincing arguments, Pope is not alone in saying the issue is not a major one. Robert G. Crawford, associate professor of managerial economics, said he is not concerned about whether the minimum wage increases or stays the same.

    “I think minimum wage is basically a political thing,” Crawford said. “It has little impact on the economy.”

    At the same time, Crawford did validate some of the concerns Americans might have about job loss.

    “Some jobs might be lost, sure,” he said. “If the productivity of a worker is so low that the employer has to pay the worker a higher wage than the worker is worth, the employer would not hire them. However, I don”t think jobs will be affected that much.”

    A worker who earns the minimum wage of $5.15 an hour and works 40 hours a week for an entire year only makes $10,712. If the minimum wage were to increase to $7.25 an hour, that same worker would make $15,080 a year.

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