The False Promises of Minimum Wage Increases
~ written in April, 2017
Aug 20, 2018
When altering an economy by legislation one must consider not only the desired consequences of such action, but also those other undesirable consequences that will result from the action. While well-intentioned people may desire to raise the minimum wage thinking it will benefit workers, and while those currently holding minimum wage positions may be temporarily helped by the immediate increase in pay, the following are some of the undesirable results of the minimum wage increase.
Surrounding this issue, proponents often repeat the mantra that all workers be paid at a “living wage.” However, there are some jobs which, while important, will never in a 40-hour week justifiably command in the eyes of employers or consumers wages sufficient to provide for all the needs of a family. It is unfortunate that Maine’s economy suffers from a dearth of well-paying jobs and that Maine’s median income is the lowest among the New England states. Rather than mandating increased wages for entry-level and “low-skilled” (as that term is used by the U.S. Department of Labor) positions in an attempt to make these jobs the equivalent of jobs for primary breadwinners in a family, the Legislature must create an economic environment that supports the creation of “living wage” careers. Doing the former may help a few while it hurts many more, but doing the latter will help not only increase wages for some, but increase opportunities for all.
John H. Doyle is an attorney, farmer and father of five young children. A graduate of the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia School of Law, John launched his legal career in the corporate and securities group of a large law firm in Washington, DC, before starting his own practice representing technology companies as in-house counsel. Along the way John married his high school sweetheart, Joan, who brought him back to Maine; the place her family has called home since before the Revolutionary War. John, Joan and their children now carry on the tradition of farming at the historic family homestead.