Thursday, May 12, 2011

What Will It Take to Make Christians Finally Pay Attention?

Once again, our remarkable former colleague (FSU's loss was very much Trinity's gain) David Macpherson looks at the critical issue of who gains and who loses from increases in the minimum wage in this new report co-authored with William Even of Miami University. Using careful econometric techniques, they conclude (again) that the job-loss effects of the minimum wage fall disproportionately on young black Americans. What is new here is their finding that increases in the minimum wage raised unemployment for African Americans by a stunning 40 percent more than would have occurred merely from the Great Recession. Christians interested in social issues: is anyone listening? Does anyone care about what's actually going on out there?

(Thanks to NCPA for the tip about the study).


Brandon Vogt said...


I've been reading the blog for a while--I'm good friends with Doug--so I've seen a number of posts on minimum wage.

But can you briefly sum up what you think is the most compassionate response to minimum wage laws? Strengthen them? Weaken them? Do away with them? Or is there an alternative solution?

I really appreciate you and Doug's work--few Christians unite both compassion and wisdom as well as you two.


Your brother,
Brandon Vogt

Mark said...

Thanks for your thoughtful question Brandon. BTW I apologize it didn't show up on my e-mail and I just found it several days late inside the blogspot site. I think the evidence is overwhelming that minimum wages laws differentially harm the most vulnerable members of our society. Ideally, I would eliminate them and keep my eye on making sure that the earned income tax credit is doing what it should. At the very least we need to do something like training wages for people younger than 21. Learning all about what it's like to have a job (showing up every day, following instructions, etc.) is a social skill that's hard to come by if you can't get a job. As one of my colleagues pointed out, traditionally the training wage in many occupations was "zero"; young boys (at the time, could be girls today) would go to a local car mechanic and offer to work for free to learn the skills. This lives on today as largely upper income young people arrange "internships." I've never figured out why it was legal for an upper middle class college student to offer to work all summer for a wage of zero, while less well-connected young people couldn't offer to work for, say, $4.00 an hour.