February 21, 2014
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Last night on Crossfire, we debated the minimum wage with guests Ralph Nader and Stephen Moore. It was an excellent debate at just the right time, since President Obama is travelling the country advocating a hike in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour–a proposal which the Congressional Budget Office said this week would likely kill half a million jobs.
Many on the left, however, argue that making it illegal to hire employees for less than $10.10 an hour would not cause increased unemployment. Two charts in particular make a pretty strong case that they’re wrong—the President’s proposals would put more Americans out of work.
The first chart is of minimum wages in Western Europe. You might assume that every country in Europe has such laws–but you’d be mistaken. Among those without minimum wage laws are Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Sweden. In countries with a minimum wage, the median unemployment is 11.1%. In countries without one, it’s just 5.2% (a rate we would love to have in the U.S. right now).
The second chart is closer to home. It weighs minimum wage laws against unemployment among the 50 states. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the five states with the most unemployment have high minimum wages compared to the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, which applies in most states, whether they want it or not.
Tonight, on Crossfire, Texas Governor Rick Perry will debate Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. It turns out that of the 22 states with higher minimum wages than Texas (where the federal rate of $7.25 applies), 19 have higher unemployment rates–including Illinois, which has the third highest unemployment in the country. It should be a fascinating discussion.