Public Square

Are DC’s Minimum Wage Increases a Step Up?

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On Wednesday, the mayor of Washington, DC signed a minimum wage hike into law. This means that the minimum wage will rise in increments until it hits $11.50 in July of 2016, becoming one of the highest rates in the entire nation.

It also means that young and unskilled workers who live and work in the D.C. area could be in for some trouble ahead.

Values and Capitalism blogger Joy Pullmann explains the problem by recounting how much trouble her husband had in finding his first job:

One employer, who custom-built wood boats, told my husband he’d like to hire him because he seemed to have a good work ethic and was likely to learn quickly, but he wasn’t willing to take a chance in case these qualities didn’t materialize on the job. Since Nathaniel had never built boats before, he had no work history to prove that he would, indeed, work hard and learn fast enough to justify his salary. This obstacle confronted him time and time again, and it was very difficult to find a job although he spent hours every day looking.

The same goes for young people and unskilled workers. They need to develop a reputation, some skills, and some experience for their resume. They need a first chance. But if their starting wage is too high, employers simply won’t be able to afford to give them that chance.

Minimum wage laws won’t just hurt workers though. It will also make things more difficult for consumers, especially those who are living below the poverty line. Click the “learn more” button to find out why.

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