July 27, 2012

Teenagers and the Minimum Wage

More than 100 House Democrats have proposed a bill to raise the minimum wage, so naturally conservatives are full of reasons why we shouldn't do that, like it'll make it prohibitively expensive for businesses to hire new workers. I keep seeing links to studies claiming that that's bullshit, but it's an argument I understand, at least, and it makes up myth One and Two on ThinkProgress's "Top Three Myths Conservatives Use To Oppose Increasing The Minimum Wage" But number 3 I don't understand at all, and it really made me angry.
3) Increasing the minimum wage only benefits teenagers. Many Republicans argue that raising the minimum wage just hurts teenagers’ ability to gain work experience. But as a new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows, nearly 90 percent of minimum wage workers are 20 years old or older. Plus, “more than a third (35.8 percent) [of minimum wage workers] are married, and over a quarter (28.0 percent) are parents.”
Ok, so ThinkProgress responded to this by saying that most people with minimum wage jobs are adults. But what's wrong with benefits for teenagers?

We're a country with enormously expensive higher education, high teen pregnancy/parenting, and lots of inter-generational poverty. There is absolutely no reason why teenagers shouldn't have a pay raise; I mean, I would probably spend it on movie tickets, but I know friends from high school who could have really used it for the sort of bootstraps-y things that Republicans are into like helping their families and saving for college. So why in the world is "eh, they're just teenagers" a legitimate argument for not raising the minimum wage?

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