$2 an hour is better than nothing


I am writing in response to Christopher Simons’ letter, “Wages are set by supply and demand” (Jan. 13). I appreciate your concern regarding an increase in the minimum wage. You make two points, however, that require substantiation.

First, you imply that, if minimum wage were increased, businesses would fire some employees in order to offset the required increase in wages and that “no large change would be obvious.”?

Recent studies suggest that a modest increase in minimum wage does not result in job loss and does result in an increase in pay. See Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage, by David Card and Alan Krueger, for support of this. While their data is controversial, at the very least it suggests there is reason to doubt the veracity of your claim. ?Second, you claim, “If $2 per hour is too low a wage to pay a fast-food worker, no potential employee would accept such a position.” Bluntly but gently, this statement is wrong. The economic model you are suggesting is appealing but naive. It depends on a premise for which there is little, if any, empirical support. ?The reality of many Americans is that they are forced to accept jobs for which they do not earn a living wage. I am not claiming this because I adhere to a particular economic model but because I’ve seen this reality first hand. ??Simons, you’re obviously a concerned individual, but back this concern up by doing your own legwork rather than letting adherence to a few assumptions about the market shape your opinions about the economic reality of many Americans.

Volunteer in the inner city-falsify your job application and take a job that pays only minimum wage, throw in a child or two to support, get out and talk to people that make next to nothing-then decide whether you think all people have a choice about whether to accept a job that pays $2 or even $8 an hour. ??Luke Glowacki?Graduate Student, Philosophy