House Democrats have introduced a bill in the House — bound to go nowhere due to the Republican majority — that would increase the minimum wage to $10. This would give the wage the purchasing power that it had in the 1960s.
Republicans have publicly met the idea of raising the minimum wage with contempt, with Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) even nonsensically telling one constituent who asked about the Democrats’ bill to “get a job.” Meanwhile, thousands of working Americans this week rallied in favor a higher minimum wage.
Conservative opposition to a higher minimum wage hinges on a few tired arguments that ultimately protect big businesses and hurt low-income workers. Here are the favorite conservative myths when it comes to the minimum wage and why there’s really nothing to them:
1) The minimum wage kills jobs. “It’s a classic election-year ploy to make the Democrats look like they’re protecting low-income workers. I think it’s well understood that raising the minimum wage hurts workers on the lower end of the pay scale in that it does kill jobs,” said a recent statement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. However, several academic studies have shown that raising the minimum wage does not have a negative effect on employment. In fact, an analysis of state minimum wage increases showed that those state boosting their wage “had job growth slightly above the national average.”
2) Increasing the minimum wage hurts small businesses. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) reacted to a proposal to raise the minimum wage by saying that small business owners are “going to have to lay people off.” However, two-thirds of low-wage workers actually work for big corporations, most of which have largely recovered from the recession and could therefore afford to increase wages. The three largest employers of low-wage workers have all seen large profit increases in the last few years.
3) Increasing the minimum wage only benefits teenagers. Many Republicans argue that raising the minimum wage just hurts teenagers’ ability to gain work experience. But as a new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows, nearly 90 percent of minimum wage workers are 20 years old or older. Plus, “more than a third (35.8 percent) [of minimum wage workers] are married, and over a quarter (28.0 percent) are parents.”