Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why white people should love the minimum wage laws

Please excuse me while I bet the crap out of this dead horse....one....more....time....with some help from the Wall Street Journal.  This is from an unsigned editorial that ran a few days ago:

Perhaps you've already noticed around the neighborhood, but this is a rotten summer for young Americans to find a job. The Department of Labor reported last week that a smaller share of 16-19 year-olds are working than at anytime since records began to be kept in 1948.

We've had stimulus packages, bold new initiatives, bailouts, TARP's, and an increase in government spending that would be the envy of every corporatist/fascist since Mussolini.  How in the heck can we have the lowest level of teen employment since 1948? 

Only 24% of teens, one in four, have jobs, compared to 42% as recently as the summer of 2001. The nearby chart chronicles the teen employment percentage over time, including the notable plunge in the last decade.



So instead of learning valuable job skills—getting out of bed before noon, showing up on time, being courteous to customers, operating a cash register or fork lift—millions of kids will spend the summer playing computer games or hanging out.

The lousy economic recovery explains much of this decline in teens working, and some is due to increases in teen summer school enrollment. Some is also cultural: Many parents don't put the same demands on teens as they once did to get out and work.

I respectfully disagree with The Wall Street Guys on this one.  I've been getting in about 65 hours a week since the first week of June.  Mrs. Sepulchre easily logs in the same number.  The Aggie, our offspring, has been putting in 70.  Yes, 70. 
Every summer, I get a cycle of calls from parents that I know, and they're always wondering if I've got a spot for their Jason, Jeremy, Justin, or Josh. 
If things go as planned, Dr. Ralph's youngest kid might be coming to work with us this summer. 
While there might be some parents who don't want their delicate little snowflakes to be stunted by premature labor, I've not met many.  There's something else going on in these unemployment numbers.  Back to the Wall Street Journal:

...But Congress has also contributed by passing one of the most ill-timed minimum wage increases in history. One of the first acts of the gone-but-not-forgotten Nancy Pelosi ascendancy was to raise the minimum wage in stages to $7.25 an hour in 2009 from $5.15 in 2007. Even liberals ought to understand that raising the cost of hiring the young and unskilled while employers are slashing payrolls is loopy economics.

Yeah.  Well.  Their battle-cry is "It's not fair !" or "Corporate greed !!" or "Would you want to work for $5.15 an hour?"
But it is indeed loopy economics. 

Or maybe not. The Center for American Progress, often called the think tank for the Obama White House, recently recommended another increase to $8.25 an hour. Though the U.S. unemployment rate is 9.1%, the thinkers assert that a rising wage would "stimulate economic growth to the tune of 50,000 new jobs." So if the government orders employers to pay more to hire workers when they're already not hiring, they'll somehow hire more workers. By this logic, if we raised the minimum wage to $25 an hour we'd have full employment.

Think about that for a moment.  Enjoy it.  Roll that sentence around in your mouth like a fine wine. The ironically named "Center For American Progress" is going to increase the sales of something by raising the price. 

Back on planet Earth, the minimum wage increase has coincided with the plunge in the percentage of working teens. Before the most recent wage hikes, roughly seven million teens were working. Now there are closer to five million with a job and paycheck.

So why in the hell would anyone in his right mind continue to defend these arbitrary minimum wages?  Could it be that The Sepulchre Family has benefitted at the expense of some of the unemployed?  Is The Aggie racking up overtime because she's gotten some advantages over those who are less skilled because they didn't get onto the employment ladder at an earlier age? 
Yes. 

Black teens have had the worst of it, with their unemployment rate rising to 41.6% in April from 29% in 2007, faster than almost any other group. A 2010 study by economists William Even of Miami University of Ohio and David Macpherson of Trinity University found that as a result of the $2.10 increase in minimum wage, "teen employment dropped by 6.9 percent. . . . For the teen population with less than 12 years of education completed, teen employment dropped by 12.4 percent." For teens priced out of the labor market, their wage fell to zero.

Whew.  Thank God my family is white, and can avoid the burden of government regulatory help of this kind. Perhaps if the Center For American Progress can get the minimum wage raised to $10.00 an hour, black teen unemployment will hit 75%, guaranteeing better employment opportunities for white folks like us. 
(Seriously, for more info on the racist origins of the minimum wage laws, go here.) 

The great tragedy is that even discussing the role of the minimum wage in teen unemployment seems to be a political taboo. The other day we saw ABC's George Stephanopoulos baiting Michele Bachmann on the minimum wage, as if refusing to raise it would be some epic political gaffe. Ms. Bachmann didn't back down from saying that the minimum wage has contributed to unemployment, though she didn't explain why.

The great tragedy is that even discussing the role of the minimum wage in teen unemployment seems to be a political taboo.

Yeah, thanks to our public school system, which does a great job of teaching victimology but a lousy job of teaching cause and effect, if you discuss anything about repealing minimum wage laws in public, you're painted as an evil, uncaring, slave-driver. 
And the people who arbitrarily increase these wages above the market level are painted as heroic champions of the people.  Go figure. 

What she or another candidate should do is stop playing defense and ask why Mr. Stephanopoulos doesn't seem to mind a black teen jobless rate of 41.6%. Someone truly brave would come out for a teenage sub-minimum wage of, say, $4 an hour. In certain circumstances employers can now pay teens a minimum of $4.25, but only for 90 days. This makes employers reluctant to hire at all. Make the case on moral grounds that a mandated wage that is too high blocks the young and unskilled from grabbing a place on the economic ladder.


Teenagers who work part-time while attending school generally make more money and have more successful careers as adults than kids who never work. As a 2006 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago put it: "The drop in teen labor force participation may also have implications for future productivity growth. In general, labor market experience tends to raise subsequent earnings."

The U.S. has long had a labor market flexible enough that when the economy grows, the jobless rate falls smartly. This time has been different, and the great danger is that Obamanomics has moved the U.S. to a permanently higher jobless rate as in so much of Europe. For America's teenagers this summer, that reality is already here.

But not at my house.  My kid is doing great, pulling in overtime pay with both hands and a shovel.

Her employer could take a risk and spread the wealth by hiring some of those black kids in the neighborhood where she works, but why bother?  Why take the risk on a new hire at a high rate when you can hire an experienced white girl who has been doing the job for two years already?

It's because of the minimum wage, one of the few Federal programs that has worked exactly as intended.  It guarantees full employment for whites at the expense of others.  I keep expecting it to show up on on the "Stuff White People Like" website. So thank you, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat Party.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. 


4 comments:

Nick said...

When the price of something goes up, people buy less of it, all else constant.

It's not just a good idea, it's THE LAW.

Union wage contracts and their general unwillingness to accept concessions has led directly to their union brothers and sisters hitting the unemployment line. Of course, it's the newest union members who get laid off first.

Leftists eat their young.

Dr Ralph said...

Alas, as you may have heard, the offspring will not be joining your workplace -- the reason given was there are no temporary or short-term position available. Which makes sense.

Every summer my office takes on from 3 to 4 interns; this year we hired just one.

I don't know that the minimum wage in our case was a factor because we typically pay above the minimum -- even the current one. You're in a better position to know whether it was a factor with my offspring.

Was raising the minumum ill-timed in today's economy? No doubt.

Meanwhile the median compensation for the CEOs of S&P 500 companies increased 28 percent last year. How many minimum wage jobs could have been created if those CEOs had been willing to settle for just a 20% raise?

Nick said...

Recall that a business' cost of labor rises by more than the increase in the min wage. When the wage goes up, payroll taxes, workers comp premiums, unemployment insurance premiums, and some benefits also go up.

You're right that the biggest losers are the teenagers who need to build jobs skills. The problem is that more and more adults are working at minimum wage as primary income earners for their families. They also do these jobs as careers rather than a step ladder. Many unions also index their wages to min wage, so any increase benefits them too.

CEOs make a lot, but they produce a lot of value for their firms. In tough times, the value they provide includes cutting the work force. That's their job. If there's a problem with CEO pay, it's not the size but rather the perverse incentives that encourage them to take risks at shareholder expense.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dang it, Doctor, I had not heard that.
Maybe next year.