Death to the “Fight for $15”
April 12, 2017
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The minimum wage is one of the most contested economic policies of our current political atmosphere. Whether we should raise it or keep it at the current rate is a matter of partisanship. Republicans believe that the $7.25 national minimum wage is acceptable, while on the left the larger consensus is to increase the national minimum wage to a staggering $15 per hour. In Illinois, Democratic legislators have begun their local “Fight for $15” campaign that many other liberal states and cities have been partaking.
From Seattle to New York City to the state of Massachusetts, liberal localities across the nation have been buying into the idea that increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour will bring large economic growth and higher job satisfaction, while also increasing the amount of jobs in the marketplace. This could be farther from the truth, and in fact increasing the minimum wage to twice the national level will stand to hurt every part of our job market in the long term.
Initially, workers in a market with this wage increase will feel the benefit of their legislator’s hard work. They will have more money to spend, while also being able to work less to acquire the same pay. Initially, the service industry will be hit hard, especially in the fast food market with the introduction of automation, as well the growing undocumented immigrant labor force being able to work for below the government mandated wage, especially in states like California and Illinois.
As time progresses, new youth who are attempting to enter the job market will find themselves at a disadvantage, as their labor isn’t worth the government mandated $15 per hour, and will lead to a large unemployment rate amongst teenagers. The increase in wages will cut the number of full-time workers, and will lead to a correlative loss in full-time worker benefits across the board.
Inflation will equalize with the government mandated cost of labor due to businesses needing to match their increase of labor costs with their gross profit, and will make the increase to $15 feel like nothing has changed within 20 years of its enactment.
Democratic Illinois legislators have recently introduced a $15 minimum wage bill into the general assembly which will not only increase our state minimum wage by $6.75 by 2022, but also provide subsidies to small businesses which cannot afford the increase in labor costs through tax credits.
This bill is not only dangerous to the lacking Illinois economy as it currently stands, but it will also dig Illinois into a deeper debt through providing subsidies to companies which would fail under the pressure of meeting labor costs. The state hasn’t had a formal budget in over two years, and has already cursed programs across the state, such as the community college system, with having to cut full-time employees and find nontraditional ways to fund themselves.
Illinois is already in crisis mode with the amount of turmoil slathered across the gears of our state government. Now is not the time to boost our economy in the short term with a nonsensical minimum wage increase. Now is the time to fine tune solutions to our ever-growing state debt, and to find ways both Democrats and Republicans can work together for once in our state’s history to build a sustainable future for all citizens of the Land of Lincoln.