Simplistic Economics on the Minimum Wage

March 4, 2013

President Obama has called for an increase in the Minimum Wage,making the claim that it would be good for business because those receiving the higher wage would have more to spend. Higher demand would lead to increased consumption. That boon is easy to see, but serious policy makers must also consider the less visible consequences.

Where does the money for the raise come from?

No business has a money tree from which to pluck dollars, the raise must be accounted for either by reducing the wages of other employees or the number of employees, reducing their consumption, or raising the prices of the company’s products or services, leaving the customers with less to spend somewhere else, or from the business owner(s) pockets, reducing their consumption, or investment in their own business, or those of others through stock purchases, reducing the consumption of those businesses or their employees.

In every case, the increased consumption by minimum wage earners comes at the expense of reduced consumption by someone else. There is no net benefit to the economy.

Increased wages can bring true increases in consumption and economic growth only if they are the result of increased wealth creation by the employee.

Either the President is being guided by extremely simplistic economic theory or he is simply pandering and hoping no one will notice the fallacy. Neither option is encouraging.

The President’s advisers should point out to him that ‘pulling oneself up by his bootstraps’ is only a figure of speech.