Newspapers battle over raising minimum wage

Is increasing the federal standard a good idea? The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal duke it out.

By Kim Peterson Feb 18, 2013 3:27PM
Image: Young business woman with her colleagues working in call center -- Daniel Laflor/the Agency Collection/Getty ImagesIs President Obama right to call for increasing the federal minimum wage? The editorial boards of the country's most influential newspapers are weighing in on opposite sides of the debate.

The New York Times says Obama didn't go far enough, and that the minimum wage should be at least $10 an hour. But The Wall Street Journal rails against the idea, saying that it will push the least educated and skilled workers out of the job market altogether.

Let's go through the arguments each side makes:

It helps reduce poverty. The Times says that Obama's call will bring minimum-wage workers above the poverty line, which is about $18,500 for a family of three. It will also stimulate the economy by giving consumers more money.

It doesn't reduce poverty. The Journal reports that most families in poverty don't have someone who works. So a higher minimum wage just makes it harder to get a job, which exacerbates poverty.

It will not harm small business. The Times argues that the extra cost brought by a higher minimum wage will be offset by lower employee turnover and small increases in prices.

It will kill jobs. The Journal cites a University off California economist who has reviewed more than 100 academic studies on the minimum wage. About 85% of those studies found "a negative employment effect on low-skilled workers," the editorial states. Those workers are priced out of the job market.

It will not kill jobs. The Times cites a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago showing that a $1 minimum-wage increase triggered $2,800 in new spending by affected households the following year. That's mostly because affected workers bought cars. "Owning a car, in turn, helps workers to keep their jobs," the editorial states.

It hurts minority youth. When the jobless rate is high, raising the minimum wage "punishes minority youth in particular," the Journal writes. It cited an unemployment rate for black teens of nearly 38% in January. One study out of Trinity University says that black young adults without a diploma suffered in the 21 states where the last minimum-wage increase, to $7.25 from $5.15, took effect.

Final words. From the Times: "A higher minimum wage would be good for workers and for the economy. The challenge is to get it through Congress."

Final words, part two. From the Journal: "Republicans may fold again to take the issue off the table in 2014, but it's a tragedy that those who will suffer the most are Mr. Obama's most ardent supporters."

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Feb 20, 2013 3:09PM
Raising minimum wage is just COMMON DECENCY. You CAN'T live on $7.25 an hour and it is an INSULT to those that work hard making the minimum.
Feb 19, 2013 7:36PM
what the hell everone gets a million dollars and milk will be $1000 a gallon-if you wonder what this means it means nothing like the rest of the crap printed here today
Feb 19, 2013 4:42PM
Low wages change demographics by KILLING birth rates.

Raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour or America's birth rates will NEVER return.

Republican low wages have PROVEN to be NATIONAL SUICIDE.

Birth rate killing national suicide. Republicans are the enemy of the people.

Feb 19, 2013 4:40PM

Living wage = $15 per hour.

In today's dollars, low wages below a living wage($15 per hour) are population reducing, birth rate killing measures foisted on us by conservative REPUBLICANS. Pushed by Illuminati Corporate FASCISM.

Low wages have KILLED America's birth rates so effectively that our DEMOGRAPHICS are changing.

Who can afford children?

Low wages(Walmart, Mcdonald's, Home Depot) combined with unaffordable for-profit healthcare, unaffordable for-profit energy, gas, oil, heat, electricity all are KILLING America's birth rates and bringing in a new majority.

Republican low wages WILL hasten the shift in demographics as birth rates remain at RECORD ALL-TIME LOWS.

Low wages = Low birth rates.
FASCIST Capitalism's low wages are national SUICIDE.

Feb 19, 2013 2:05PM
I'm sure The Wall Street Journal just wants what's best for the common folk.
Feb 19, 2013 12:29PM
This has become a WELFARE nation full of lazy people with entitlement attitudes who expect to get paid for just showing up somewhere!  Work ethic is a rare commodity.  Minimum wage has always rewarded the lazy and punished those who strive to improve themselves and produce something of value.  Cost of a good's inputs is a major determinant of price.  When wage, the price of the labor, increases, the price of the product, the final good, goes up.  Businesses can only hire up to a certain amount of workers and some will be forced to let go of good workers.  The increase in the price of the final good is still not enough to offset the cost of labor and rehire workers.  The schmucks who whine about not being able to afford what they need in life, are the same greedy, self-indulgent schmucks I see with stomachs hanging over their belts, dropping $$$ DAILY on fast food, luxury items like cigarettes, booze and lottery tickets, and copious amounts of unnecessary crap at convenience stores.  You want to rise up in life, then forget riding on the backs of society - here's a concept EARN your money, then live within your means!  It is no one's responsibility but your own self to care of you!  If you want to retire well, then SAVE---don't blow all your money then expect the government or the rest of society to bail you out! Be part of the solution, not the problem!
Feb 18, 2013 8:14PM
The bad thing about this idea is in hourly positions, a minimum wage increase negates merit increases. For example, I was making $9 an hour when minimum wage went from $4.30 (or whatever it was) to $5.25 an hour. Our pay didn't increase to offset that. I'm currently a manager for a fast food restaurant. I started off at $8 an hour and in a year, have worked up to $9.75 an hour. If minimum wage increases a dollar an hour, my pay isn't going to increase by $1, but my $1.75 merit raise won't be as impressive since crew will start out making at least $8 an hour.
Feb 18, 2013 7:55PM

The Journal is wrong!  A lot of  people on poverty level are working.  Prices go up up but wages do not just the top bosses and  Senators State and congress, Congress and senators (Federal) levels wages go up.  When they raise their wages why not raise all american employees wages to off set the rise in groceries, gas, and just everyday living items you have to live on.


It is time to let the people say when they should have a raise?  They make a choice when we get a raise.


Start limiting how many children a family can have living on welfare and especially the drug additions or alcoholics they get free help.  Their choice to become a drug addict or to drink.  No body made them!!!!!!!!!


Feb 18, 2013 7:05PM
if wages go up then prices will go up, areas with higher wages in general, have higher costs of living. you get paid more so you can afford to pay more for products. go shopping in a well to do neighbor hood and a poor neighborhood you'll see a difference.
Feb 18, 2013 5:29PM

Better to pay a living wage than to subsidize labor with federal funds for places like Walmart.

Feb 18, 2013 5:17PM

Less pizza delivery; more oven repairmen; actually, more new ovens; more new kitchens; Just complaints in a change of a constant. Better or Worse?

Feb 18, 2013 4:36PM

My very first reaction to the proposal was "No". Bad idea, for this time and for the proposed sector, to try and apply meaningful remedy because not enough has yet been done to "remedy" the monopoly at the top while simultaneously not enough has yet been established (as safeguards) at the bottom to meaningfully be recipient to any of those proposed benefits of extra spending staying and recycling around the bottom. It would just be adding more "supposed spending" to the bottom of the pot, expecting that that it won't just be syphoned up, just like it is now, to the "all consuming, in control" 1% Monopolies at the top. It's like foolishly thinking you're creating a needed autonomous "sub-economy" to function on the surface of the rug that everything and anything meaningful's been swept under while the big middleman vaccuum cleaner continuously, round the clock, sucks up whatever is on the surface of the rug  (that everything and anything "meaningful" has been swept under). And it's only going to hurt the smaller than Small Business Employers with all the added payroll expense, again, just because of being "not at the right time" and not having enough safeguards against the 1% and their vaccuuming middlemen in place.


Do these "not for profits" and now "for-profit-not-for-profits?" pay a matching share of payroll taxes or are they exempt so that only the actual employee is paying payroll taxes?  

Feb 18, 2013 4:30PM
Why stop @ $10 a hour why not $20, $30 no wait $100 an hour we gots to reistrubute some of this wealth these small business owners didnt create.
Feb 18, 2013 4:08PM

Instead of matching it, beat amazon's price and that will get their market share back. We all know that consumers are all about savings, and Best Buy needs to understand consumer's way of thinking. I go to Amazon to save on price, delivery, and sometimes taxes on electronics and even on sneakers. How come a big public company like Best Buy is behind the eight ball on this? It doesn't take a genius to figure this out.

Feb 18, 2013 3:48PM
It would be a double whammy Obamacare and higher wages it would kill full time entry level jobs.

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