I opened Monday’s Kentucky Tonight discussion on increasing the minimum wage by saying viewers might be disappointed if they tuned in to learn if raising wages kills jobs and causes layoffs.
I said that because The Atlantic recently reported on its website that researchers have been arguing about that question for a century. One of the first major government studies on the matter was conducted in 1915. Reporter Jordan Weissmann says the connection between minimum wage increases and job losses is still murky. When economists study a minimum wage hike, he says they generally find it either creates a small number of job losses or leaves employment untouched.
Kentucky lawmakers are considering an increase to the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour over the course of three years. Proponents of House Bill 1 say the legislation would be a turning point for thousands of workers who are struggling to make ends meet. Opponents argue that raising the wage would kill jobs, cause some businesses to increase the cost of their products, and force others to lay off employees.
Both sides in this current debate brought their arguments – and their studies – to the table last night. Anna Baumann, a research and policy associate with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, and Bonifacio Aleman, executive director of Kentucky Jobs with Justice, support the proposal. Stacy Roof, president and CEO of the Kentucky Restaurant Association, and Tod Griffin, president of the Kentucky Retail Federation, oppose HB 1.
Here’s a sample of our conversation.
Click here to watch the full Kentucky Tonight discussion about the minimum wage.