WV Center on Budget and Policy > Press > OpEds > Higher Minimum Wage Has Greater Benefits

Higher Minimum Wage Has Greater Benefits

March 11, 2014

The February 21, 2014 editorial, “The 1 percent do not keep West Virginia down,” argues that raising the minimum wage is a poor policy for addressing income inequality, claiming that an increase would do more harm than good. In fact, raising the minimum wage has far greater benefits than costs. Read

The editorial misrepresents the findings of the recent Congressional Budget Office report on the minimum wage. It states that raising the minimum wage increases the incomes of those living in poverty by only 1 percent, and the people losing jobs would outnumber the people lifted out of poverty. Both of these points are directly contradicted by the CBO report.

The CBO report actually shows the benefits of raising the minimum wage far outweigh the costs. In addition to raising the wages of 16 million workers, the CBO finds the higher wage would lift 900,000 people out of poverty, and boost the incomes of families living in poverty by 3 percent, while it may reduce employment by 500,000.

So not only is the increase to poor families’ incomes three times as high as what the editorial claims, the number of people lifted out of poverty is nearly twice the level of the potential employment loss, not smaller, as the editorial states.

Raising the minimum wage helps address income inequality and reduces poverty by putting more money in the pockets of working families. And no matter how you measure it, those benefits far outweigh the costs.