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Subject: Question on minimum wage... rss

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So, one of the most common arguments I always see for raising the minimum wage is this: somehow, companies will not have to raise prices on products if they're forced to pay their employees more. This is usually because it's assumed that the employees will go out and spend that money on more products. Is there any hard evidence for this? I get tired of constantly hearing this argument.
 
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braveheart101 wrote:
So, one of the most common arguments I always see for raising the minimum wage is this: somehow, companies will not have to raise prices on products if they're forced to pay their employees more. This is usually because it's assumed that the employees will go out and spend that money on more products. Is there any hard evidence for this? I get tired of constantly hearing this argument.


Labor is a factor regarding the cost of goods. Depending on the good, a change in the cost of labor could have a significant or a miniscule effect on the price of said goods.

If you run a business which employs a large number of people who you pay at the minimum wage and those employees are vital to the operation of your business, a significant change in the minimum wage could significantly increase your costs, which could force you to raise prices or which could reduce your profits or even put you out of business.

On the other hand, it's also true that as a consumer economy, when people have more money to spend, they tend to spend it on goods, so depending on who you sell your goods too, you might balance out your increased costs or even make a larger profit.

How this all shakes out is really dependent on what kind of business you have, what your costs are, who your customer is, etc., etc.

I personally think raising the minimum wage, especially for part time employees would have a net positive effect on the economy and would also be more equitable than our current system, but the economy is such a complex system that reasonable minds can differ on the subject.
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http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-13/business/sns-r...

Quote:
A 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank found that for every dollar increase to the hourly pay of a minimum-wage worker, the result is $2,800 in new consumer spending from that worker's household over the year.
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TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-13/business/sns-r...

Quote:
A 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank found that for every dollar increase to the hourly pay of a minimum-wage worker, the result is $2,800 in new consumer spending from that worker's household over the year.


Since that increase only comes to an additional $2080 for a full-time worker, that result is a little surprising. If people get a raise, they start living beyond their means?
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TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-13/business/sns-r...

Quote:
A 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank found that for every dollar increase to the hourly pay of a minimum-wage worker, the result is $2,800 in new consumer spending from that worker's household over the year.


That doesn't really address the OP's question. Is that particular business owner going to see a rise in his sales?

That said, I can see that increasing the minimum wage might interject more money into the economy generally, but the big question is whether the small actors really see any benefit given that they have to pay more. And yeah, I think we should stop being a schmucky country that lets people subsist at poverty level wage because our representatives keep pushing the status quo all for being reeelcted. If you guys are going to be the party of personal accountability (it's killing me that I can't think of the BS word that Republicans use), then maybe having people being able to purchase food would be a good start.

Also screw proof reading. I don't care if Cranky people are reading this. Except I just edited multiple times.
 
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Shushnik wrote:
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-13/business/sns-r...

Quote:
A 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank found that for every dollar increase to the hourly pay of a minimum-wage worker, the result is $2,800 in new consumer spending from that worker's household over the year.


I'd like to see that study. Even if you grant that the person gains a full $2000 per year because they have no taxes, which is somewhat suspect in many situations, where does the other $800 come from? Debt?


Typically. In the form of a car loan according to the study.

Really, though, the question was "does raising the minimum wage increase consumer spending?" The answer, according to that study, is yes.
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Shushnik wrote:
I'd like to see that study. Even if you grant that the person gains a full $2000 per year because they have no taxes, which is somewhat suspect in many situations, where does the other $800 come from? Debt?

Wild guess: overtime.

The "companies pass on all costs" meme is a half-truth. Yes, that would be their first reaction, but they might not be able to because of competition. Further, employees will do their best to pass on their increased costs, such as price increases in what they buy, by asking for raises, finding another job, and so forth. So, for example, the idea that raising corporate taxes will hurt the economy while raising worker's taxes has no effect is wrong. Increasing individual taxes is just not as direct or as quick an effect.

The economy is a cycle with everyone paying everyone else, so it doesn't really matter where you tax or how you increase wages, except for some very immediate value judgements. For example, because most US taxes (income, unemployment, disability, SSA) are employment-based, it discourages employment--a corporate officer is going to do a simple calculation about how much each not hired or laid off or off-shored employee will save, for instance. He's not going to take the next step and ask how that decreases US efficiency and increases the burden on unemployment insurance. It's not really predictable how much those costs will come back and bite his company in the arse, and it's not his responsibility, anyway.

So, I'd rather see employment taxes cut than the minimum wage raised, even though the lost taxes would have to be made up somewhere else in the economy.
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galad2003 wrote:

The entire study of economics provides a detailed discussion of this. Specifically the laws of supply and demand as they relate to labor. However I know the left doesn't believe in economics.


We don't believe in supply-side economics, the silly justification that the rich use to get richer without having to work for it.

I can't speak for all lefties, but I support demand-side economics and it tells us when consumers (low and middle class) get more money they spend it on goods, which transfers money to the rich. The rich just have to provide something to the consumers to get it. The economy grows when you do that. Demand creates expansion of supply, which means that more people are hired to satisfy that demand and a positive feedback loop is created.

Letting money concentrate in the already wealthy doesn't do anything for the country. Why invest money in supply when nobody can afford to act on their demand? Minimum wage increases stimulate the economy. Yes, some businesses that are operating at small margins and don't supply something that is commonly demanded will suffer, but maybe their product/service isn't viable in a healthy modern economy and they need to move on. If you can only make a profit by employing people at the poverty line, I don't think you have a viable business model.
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rylfrazier wrote:
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-13/business/sns-r...

Quote:
A 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank found that for every dollar increase to the hourly pay of a minimum-wage worker, the result is $2,800 in new consumer spending from that worker's household over the year.


Since that increase only comes to an additional $2080 for a full-time worker, that result is a little surprising. If people get a raise, they start living beyond their means?
There may be more than one such worker per household on average. They may hold more than just 100% employment over several jobs.
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braveheart101 wrote:
So, one of the most common arguments I always see for raising the minimum wage is this: somehow, companies will not have to raise prices on products if they're forced to pay their employees more. This is usually because it's assumed that the employees will go out and spend that money on more products. Is there any hard evidence for this? I get tired of constantly hearing this argument.


That's strange, because I don't think I've ever heard this argument made. At most I think the argument is that price increases would be modest and would be worth the benefit the advocate sees in increasing the minimum wage. Maybe we're just talking to different people?
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
braveheart101 wrote:
So, one of the most common arguments I always see for raising the minimum wage is this: somehow, companies will not have to raise prices on products if they're forced to pay their employees more. This is usually because it's assumed that the employees will go out and spend that money on more products. Is there any hard evidence for this? I get tired of constantly hearing this argument.


That's strange, because I don't think I've ever heard this argument made. At most I think the argument is that price increases would be modest and would be worth the benefit the advocate sees in increasing the minimum wage. Maybe we're just talking to different people?


Well I tend to talk about this stuff with people my age, AKA college-age kids. They're almost all young Liberals and convinced that one year of college economics gives you all the answers...
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braveheart101 wrote:
Is there any hard evidence for this? I get tired of constantly hearing this argument.


have you run your own business ? my father was a life long Democrat from Detroit until his 5th year of running his own business. he had two high school kids that would clean the shop for a few hours after school until 1997 when the minimum wage laws nearly doubled. at that point he could no longer keep both kids on.

the people who argue for minimum wage increases are usual the same people who never had to make a payroll budget each week.

the one question I ask the wage hikers is this. why raise it to 10$ per hour, why not 100$ an hour ? that would be really fair and nobody would be poor.
 
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jeremycobert wrote:
braveheart101 wrote:
Is there any hard evidence for this? I get tired of constantly hearing this argument.


have you run your own business ? my father was a life long Democrat from Detroit until his 5th year of running his own business. he had two high school kids that would clean the shop for a few hours after school until 1997 when the minimum wage laws nearly doubled.


Hrmmm.

Quote:
Federal legislation increased the minimum wage from $4.25 to $4.75 on October 1, 1996 and to $5.15 on September 1, 1997.



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braveheart101 wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
braveheart101 wrote:
So, one of the most common arguments I always see for raising the minimum wage is this: somehow, companies will not have to raise prices on products if they're forced to pay their employees more. This is usually because it's assumed that the employees will go out and spend that money on more products. Is there any hard evidence for this? I get tired of constantly hearing this argument.


That's strange, because I don't think I've ever heard this argument made. At most I think the argument is that price increases would be modest and would be worth the benefit the advocate sees in increasing the minimum wage. Maybe we're just talking to different people?


Well I tend to talk about this stuff with people my age, AKA college-age kids. They're almost all young Liberals and convinced that one year of college economics gives you all the answers...


First, good for you for talking about it.

Second, I can't say that is a very common argument. Certainly, people routinely fail to grasp that most every action taken by government (or corporations) changes behavior which alters baseline conditions. Without belaboring the point, businesses will change behavior in the face of minimum wage hikes which may include raising prices, reducing work hours, reducing workforce or sucking up the diminished profit to some extent.

The question is whether, on net, there is a benefit to society in these changes. Republicans tend to focus on the negative effects to employers including loss of control (choice), decreased profit, lay offs, shorter work hours, inability to spend those dollars on capital investment and so on. Democrats tend to focus on the positive aspects including increased living standards (paying for food, medicine, shelter, etc) and stimulation of demand (workers paying for goods/services rather than employers saving).

This is a classic debate between supply side economics (largely embraced by the GOP and demand side economics largely embraced by the Democrats. Both sides have merits to their arguments. American living standards are pretty much the highest in the world, even in the poverty class. However, recent years have shown a rapid aggregation of assets in fewer hands with decling expections among the middle and lower classes.

I suspect that minimum wage laws are really quite marginal in effect whether negative or positive and in fact are mixed.
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I think the main argument for a minimum wage is fairly straightforward. Low-skill labor is a commodity and in an open market will price like other commodities that are in oversupply -- down to the marginal cost (i.e. just over the level at which the worker is better off with no job at all). While a simple and static economic analysis would say that this level is actually optimal (anything that keeps the price from being where the supply and demand curves meet eliminates value-creating trades and thus destroys value) there are substantial economic and, I would say, moral consequences to letting the labor market price out this way.

It's certainly true that raising the minimum wage can price jobs out of existence -- specifically, at least for small increases, jobs where the benefit to the employer is so marginal that the employer is barely better off having the worker in the first place. (This, by the way, is also the answer to the stupid-but-often-asked question, "Why not just set it at $100/hr?") It can also put pricing pressure or do real damage to businesses built around low skill labor and low margins (e.g. cleaning services). But it also allows low-skill workers to capture a larger share of the value their work creates than they could in an open market -- since in an open market basic economics tells us their capture will be vanishingly close to zero.

There is also some evidence to suggest that at some levels a minimum wage actually leads to net job growth. I don't have the expertise to evaluate these claims or to say why this might happen, although it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that extreme poverty has all sorts of negative externalities we might not be fully aware of.
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jeremycobert wrote:
the one question I ask the wage hikers is this. why raise it to 10$ per hour, why not 100$ an hour ? that would be really fair and nobody would be poor.
Which definitely boosts your standing in any discussion. With such a groundbreaking and pertinent question you are sure to shake the very foundation of society.

The one question I ask is this. If the minimum wage were to be lowered by some amount, where do you believe the difference would go?
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Kempeth wrote:
The one question I ask is this. If the minimum wage were to be lowered by some amount, where do you believe the difference would go?


yes, it's a question you cant answer.

but, I can easily answer your question. the money would go back to the risk takers who created their business. now when you have more of your money you can then enhance or expand business. creating more opportunity for more employment and more growth. expanding your bottom line and creating more jobs and more tax revenue.
in fact Johnny LowWage now has a chance to take some of the skill he learned along the way and use them for a chance at moving up.
 
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Shushnik wrote:
jeremycobert wrote:
Kempeth wrote:
The one question I ask is this. If the minimum wage were to be lowered by some amount, where do you believe the difference would go?


yes, it's a question you cant answer.

but, I can easily answer your question. the money would go back to the risk takers who created their business. now when you have more of your money you can then enhance or expand business. creating more opportunity for more employment and more growth. expanding your bottom line and creating more jobs and more tax revenue.
in fact Johnny LowWage now has a chance to take some of the skill he learned along the way and use them for a chance at moving up.


It is demonstrably false that putting money in the hands of "risk takers" expands business. It flies in the face of basic economic theory. Demand expands business, not resources.


Actually, it takes both. I'm currently pretty close to pulling the trigger on a new business. It will be a pretty big risk for me but it's a risk I can only consider because I have access to capital and because I perceive demand for the services the business will provide.
 
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Shushnik wrote:
jeremycobert wrote:
Kempeth wrote:
The one question I ask is this. If the minimum wage were to be lowered by some amount, where do you believe the difference would go?


yes, it's a question you cant answer.

but, I can easily answer your question. the money would go back to the risk takers who created their business. now when you have more of your money you can then enhance or expand business. creating more opportunity for more employment and more growth. expanding your bottom line and creating more jobs and more tax revenue.
in fact Johnny LowWage now has a chance to take some of the skill he learned along the way and use them for a chance at moving up.


It is demonstrably false that putting money in the hands of "risk takers" expands business. It flies in the face of basic economic theory. Demand expands business, not resources.


Now, now, you are damaging his narrative with your insistence on letting reality intrude...
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
Shushnik wrote:
jeremycobert wrote:
Kempeth wrote:
The one question I ask is this. If the minimum wage were to be lowered by some amount, where do you believe the difference would go?


yes, it's a question you cant answer.

but, I can easily answer your question. the money would go back to the risk takers who created their business. now when you have more of your money you can then enhance or expand business. creating more opportunity for more employment and more growth. expanding your bottom line and creating more jobs and more tax revenue.
in fact Johnny LowWage now has a chance to take some of the skill he learned along the way and use them for a chance at moving up.


It is demonstrably false that putting money in the hands of "risk takers" expands business. It flies in the face of basic economic theory. Demand expands business, not resources.


Actually, it takes both. I'm currently pretty close to pulling the trigger on a new business. It will be a pretty big risk for me but it's a risk I can only consider because I have access to capital and because I perceive demand for the services the business will provide.


You need capital to start a business, but giving a person more capital doesn't automatically mean that they'll use that money to expand their business and grow faster. If a lack of capital was holding them back from doing that, they might do that, but they also might just take the capital as profit and use it for their personal enjoyment, or simply put it into savings. It's just like any other time you give someone money.
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rylfrazier wrote:
You need capital to start a business, but giving a person more capital doesn't automatically mean that they'll use that money to expand their business and grow faster. If a lack of capital was holding them back from doing that, they might do that, but they also might just take the capital as profit and use it for their personal enjoyment, or simply put it into savings. It's just like any other time you give someone money.


Agreed. I just think this is a subject on which both sides tend to make sweeping statements that are either wrong or badly incomplete. All the capital in the world won't expand a business on its own, but by the same token there are businesses that would grow if they were more profitable and/or the owners had access to more capital.
 
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rylfrazier wrote:
braveheart101 wrote:
So, one of the most common arguments I always see for raising the minimum wage is this: somehow, companies will not have to raise prices on products if they're forced to pay their employees more. This is usually because it's assumed that the employees will go out and spend that money on more products. Is there any hard evidence for this? I get tired of constantly hearing this argument.


Labor is a factor regarding the cost of goods. Depending on the good, a change in the cost of labor could have a significant or a miniscule effect on the price of said goods.

If you run a business which employs a large number of people who you pay at the minimum wage and those employees are vital to the operation of your business, a significant change in the minimum wage could significantly increase your costs, which could force you to raise prices or which could reduce your profits or even put you out of business.

On the other hand, it's also true that as a consumer economy, when people have more money to spend, they tend to spend it on goods, so depending on who you sell your goods too, you might balance out your increased costs or even make a larger profit.

How this all shakes out is really dependent on what kind of business you have, what your costs are, who your customer is, etc., etc.

I personally think raising the minimum wage, especially for part time employees would have a net positive effect on the economy and would also be more equitable than our current system, but the economy is such a complex system that reasonable minds can differ on the subject.


I think there is a problem these days that increasing the minimum wage enhances the pressure to automate, offshore, eliminate, or computerize jobs.

If a human is going to cost you $25,000 a year and there is any kind of software or robot that can do the job then you logically replace the human.

I don't have a good answer. I think this will be a major challenge in a few years to a decade (it may already be a major challenge since - for example- most receptionists have been computerized and all the computerized jobs may be why unemployment is persistently high.)

(and I don't think education is the answer. I think the market demand for educated people is saturated in many fields now. On top of that it's being offshored where possible (para legals, xray analysis, etc.)).
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I agree, that's a huge issue, and gets us into a realm of unintended consequences.

For example: it was cheaper to put robots in over humans due to high labor costs in auto making, so they did. The unions pushed back and made them hire workers anyway, so they moved the plants overseas.

We finally got some level of production of autos in the US by establishing significant tariffs just because we happen to buy so many cars here - still doesn't help our manufacturing for export, but there's only so much you can do.

Between safety standards and labor costs, it's extremely difficult for us to compete for manufacturing or production jobs with nations with low safety standards, low labor costs and low environmental regulation. The good news is that it appears that gradually other nations seem to "catch up" regarding all those issues, so we will eventually become more comparative.

That won't solve the basic problem of surplus labor however.


That said on the specific issue of the minimum wage, while some "production" jobs would be impacted, I think there would actually be a ton of impact in the service sector which is much more resistant to automation or job migration, which is why I'm in favor of a moderate wage increase, especially for part-time employees.
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maxo-texas wrote:
I think there is a problem these days that increasing the minimum wage enhances the pressure to automate, offshore, eliminate, or computerize jobs.


Absolutely. The whole reason you "need" a minimum wage is that even if a job creates value of $100/hr for an employer a surplus of workers vs. jobs can cause the price of the work to be bid down to "just barely better than no job at all" -- assuming that workers are competing with each other mainly on price. A market rate might be $5/hr but the company still wants it done at $10/hr provided the value created is greater than $10/hr...but they would still rather pay less. A minimum wage law denies them a set of cheaper alternatives (other domestic workers) but as offshoring and automation become easier it becomes a less effective tool.

We in the West are having to deal with the fact that our wages have been much higher than the rest of the world for a long time. As the rest of the world becomes able to offer their services in competition with ours -- and, as you point out, as computers become able to do an increasing number of tasks that used to require a person -- that gap is coming under increasing pressure.
 
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Shushnik wrote:
I don't know of anybody outsourcing any minimum wage jobs. What minimum wage jobs are in threat of being lost to other countries?


A lot of minimum wage jobs are location-dependent. Increasing the minimum wage could increase the price of burgers or reduce the profitability of burger companies, or both, but it isn't going to cause McDonalds to have burgers flipped overseas.

I would imagine that part of what happened to labor-intensive industries like textiles is that they could only be competitive at labor rates below minimum wage. This would happen to some extent without minimum wage laws, since if someone will work for $1/day in horrible conditions then a US worker isn't going to compete anyway -- but it would be pretty surprising to learn that all low-skill jobs are either going to be moved overseas no matter what or can't be moved overseas even if the minimum wage makes them more expensive to source domestically.

Automation is the other side. I think it was Mac who linked a robot that makes burgers -- supposedly much more cheaply and at a higher quality level than an equivalent minimum wage workforce.
 
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