Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Walker wrong on minimum wage workers: most aren't "just starting out"

Half of minimum wage workers are over 25 years old; 3 out of 8 are over 30

Gov. Scott Walker recently stated his absolute opposition to raising the minimum wage.

“I started out just like Paul Ryan did down the road from me working at McDonald's. Jobs that involve the minimum wage are overwhelmingly jobs for young people starting out in the workforce.”

The median age for a fast-food worker is 29 years old. In 2012, nearly 76 percent of workers earning the minimum wage or below were older than 19 years of age, and about 50 percent were older than 25. Three out of every eight workers earning the minimum wage or lower are over the age of 30, a proportion that’s higher than those between the ages of 16 and 19.

They are not “overwhelmingly” teenagers, as Gov. Walker suggests. In fact, just the opposite is true. Minimum wage earners (and those earning less) are overwhelmingly 20-somethings or older.

Via the Economic Policy Institute
But still, wouldn’t the minimum wage hike hurt teen workers? The science is mixed on this one. While minimum wage hikes in the early 90s and the most recent hike in the late 2000s indicate that teens have seen higher rates of unemployment following a raise in wages, research into the subject suggests other economic factors, such as recessions (which hit during both periods) play a much larger role in teen unemployment than wage hikes.

Meanwhile, when the minimum wage rose during the mid-90s, at a time when there was economic growth, teens not only kept pace with previous employment levels but actually saw an increase in employment in the years that followed.

Raising the minimum wage wouldn’t only overwhelmingly benefit young workers. Scott Walker is wrong on this one, and bases his "facts" on ill-conceived notions on who minimum wage workers really are.

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