NPR Pushes Myth That Raising Minimum Wage Would Kill Jobs

Minimum WageNPR pushed the myth that increasing the minimum wage would result in job losses. However, a wealth of economic evidence disputes the claim that minimum wage hikes are job killers.

In an August 29 post on the nationwide fast-food workers' strike, NPR gave credence to the myth that increasing the minimum wage forces businesses to cut jobs. Rather than turning to economists, the piece, which described the plight of fast food workers, quoted a restaurant industry lobbyist who claimed that increasing the minimum wage would kill jobs:

Industry officials say a sharp increase in the minimum wage would kill jobs.

“Doubling the minimum wage is absolutely, positively going to reduce the number of jobs,” says Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs at the National Restaurant Association. He says the industry is proud that one-third of all American adults got their start in restaurant jobs. Part-time work and flexible schedules are a big attraction for many, he says, and he points out that half of those making the minimum wage are teenagers.

Above all, DeFife says, the restaurant industry offers opportunity. “It's there for people who have had economic difficulties in the past, or who may not have finished four years of a college or university program,” he says.

Another NPR post published August 29 also cited only industry officials to push the myth:

But as Jennifer adds, “industry officials say a sharp increase in the minimum wage would kill jobs” by forcing some employers to cut positions.

NPRContrary to industry officials' claims, economic studies have concluded that raising the minimum wage has no effect on employment. In a Center for Economy and Policy Research report titled “Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment?” senior economist John Schmitt determined that there is “little or no employment response to modest increases in the minimum wage.” According to Schmitt, extensive research revealed that raising the minimum requirement has little or no statistically significant effects on employment at all.

Schmitt's conclusions are supported by more than 650 economists -- including Nobel Laureates and former presidents of the American Economics Association -- who signed a statement affirming that increasing the minimum wage would have little or no effect on employment but would improve workers' well-being:

We believe that a modest increase in the minimum wage would improve the well-being of low-wage workers and would not have the adverse effects that critics have claimed. In particular, we share the view the Council of Economic Advisors expressed in the 1999 Economic Report of the President that “the weight of the evidence suggests that modest increases in the minimum wage have had very little or no effect on employment.” While controversy about the precise employment effects of the minimum wage continues, research has shown that most of the beneficiaries are adults, most are female, and the vast majority are members of low-income working families.