Most Doubt Trading as Many as 3.7 Million Lost Jobs for $15 Minimum Wage Is Smart Deal

July 17, 2019 Updated: July 18, 2019

Fifty-four percent of respondents to a nationwide survey don’t think increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025 is worth the potential loss of as many as 3.7 million jobs that currently pay less than that.

Another 26 percent aren’t sure if the tradeoff would be a good one, while 20 percent of respondents support the idea, according to the results of the survey conducted by Rasmussen.com for the Job Creators Network Foundation (JCNF), a nonprofit advocacy group founded by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.

The survey interviewed 1,091 individuals July 15 and 16; the results are subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The survey results were made public a day before the House of Representatives took up the “Raise the Wage Act of 2019,” which would boost the federal minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2025.

The measure would also index future increases to inflation, to ensure the wage maintains current buying power, and would do away with the sub-minimum wage paid to many workers who receive tips in addition to paychecks.

The 3.7 million lost jobs figure comes from a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“In an average week in 2025, the $15 option would boost the wages of 17 million workers who would otherwise earn less than $15 per hour,” CBO said in the report, which was made public July 8.

“Another 10 million workers otherwise earning slightly more than $15 per hour might see their wages rise as well,” according to the congressional researchers.

But those improvements would come at a cost, as “1.3 million other workers would become jobless,” CBO said, and there is a significant possibility the total of lost jobs could reach as high as “3.7 million workers.”

The Rasmussen survey results also suggests strong skepticism about other aspects of the $15 minimum wage, which has been endorsed by all of the nearly two dozen Democrats seeking their party’s 2020 presidential nomination to oppose President Donald Trump.

“The polling also shows that 71 percent of Americans think the minimum wage should be adjusted to reflect the cost of living in different parts of the country, rather than having Congress mandate a one-size-fits-all minimum wage,” JCNF said in a statement accompanying the release of the survey results.

“In another question, 63 percent of adults said a better trade school and apprentice system would do more to alleviate poverty than a higher minimum wage,” JCNF continued.

In addition, JCNF stated that “84 percent of Americans think doubling the minimum wage—as the Raise the Wage Act would do—makes it more likely for small businesses to lay off workers, especially the least-skilled.”

“While a vocal crowd is championing a $15 minimum wage, most Americans think there are more effective ways to fight poverty. A one-size-fits-all strategy is rarely a good idea when it comes to sound economic policy,” JCNF President Elaine Parker said in the statement.

“Certainly, the minimum wage and other policies intended to raise worker pay deserve a more nuanced approach,” she said.

The House Democratic majority insists that raising the living standard of 17 million low-wage workers involves only a minimal economic tradeoff that would be more than offset by the resulting economic growth.

“Economists agree that low-wage workers are more likely than other income groups to spend extra earnings immediately,” according to a fact sheet published by the House Education and Labor Committee, which wrote the bill that was to go to the floor July 18.

“Researchers estimate that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage would increase sales by around $2 billion each year. This new demand helps create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few,” the committee said.

An Economic Policy Institute study earlier this year said that “the rising wage floor would generate $118 billion in additional wages … Because lower-paid workers spend much of their extra earnings, this injection of wages would help stimulate the economy and spur greater business activity and job growth.”

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