More than 500 Economists Denounce Minimum Wage Hike in Letter to Washington

Four Nobel Laureates and Three Wisconsin Economists Sign Letter

MacIver News Service | March 14, 2014

[Madison, Wisc…] More than 500 economists from across the country signed a letter to President Obama and members of Congress urging them to scrap their plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

The letter signees, including four Nobel laureates, argued raising the minimum wage would hurt the economy and kill jobs. They agreed with findings from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that said 500,000 jobs would be eliminated under the proposed wage hike.

“According to CBO, raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would cost the economy 500,000 jobs by 2016. Many of these jobs are held by entry-level workers with limited experience or vocational skills, the very employees meant to be helped,” the letter reads.

Protesters filled parking lots of fast food restaurants this past summer in Milwaukee and Madison to express their support for a $15 an hour minimum wage, which would likely hurt the economy even more. If the protesters had their way, it is likely that many of the exact workers they were attempting to help would be out of a job.

The economists said improving the economy and reducing poverty cannot be accomplished with a simple “silver-bullet” solution, like raising the minimum wage.

“As economists, we understand the fragile nature of this recovery and the dire financial realities of the nearly 50 million Americans living in poverty,” the signees wrote. “To alleviate these burdens for families and improve our local, regional, and national economies, we need a mix of solutions that encourage employment, business creation, and boost earnings rather than across-the-board mandates that raise the cost of labor.”

In the letter, economists urged federal policy makers to put aside their plan to raise the minimum wage and instead focus on creative and comprehensive policies that will address poverty by fostering growth in the economy.

The statement once again confirms the negative impacts of raising the minimum wage, including research from the MacIver Institute that found more than 7,000 teens are out of work in Wisconsin since 2005 because of minimum wage increases.

Signees of the letter included three economists from Wisconsin universities: Ban Banerjee, University of Wisconsin-Platteville; Richard Marcus, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Sol Shalit, University of Wisconsin.

See the full letter here.