Even after weighing all the minuses against the pluses, economists say raising the minimum wage is worth the cost.
A majority of economists said the benefits to low-wage workers of raising the minimum wage outweigh the possible negatives, which include potentially making it harder for low-wage workers to find jobs, according to a recent poll from the University of Chicago’s IGM Forum.
The issue is back in the news after President Barack Obama proposed raising the minimum wage to $9 from $7.25 in his State of the Union speech earlier this month. His plan was met with skepticism from conservatives like Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, who argue that raising the minimum wage would make employers less likely to hire, hurting job growth.
Economists haven’t found a conclusive answer as to whether raising the minimum wage hurts job seekers. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog recently noted that many studies link a higher minimum wage to higher unemployment, but there’s also research indicating that raising has no effect at all on the jobless rate.
Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote in a blog post earlier this month that there “just isn’t any evidence” raising the minimum wage would hurt employment prospects. And for their part, two-thirds of job-seekers say raising the minimum wage would increase their quality of life, according to recent data from the American National Election Survey.
Even if raising the minimum wage does nothing to hurt job seekers, it could have another effect, corporate chiefs warn. Subway co-founder Fred Deluca told CNBC this week that raising the minimum wage would cause franchisees to raise prices.
Also on HuffPost:
Most Americans Support Raising The Minimum Wage
Seventy-three percent of Americans support <a href="http://nelp.3cdn.net/0be1c6315f2430afa6_arm6bq9wu.pdf">raising the minimum wage</a> to $10 per hour and indexing it to inflation, according to a recent poll.
Raising The Minimum Wage Would Boost The Economy
<a href="http://www.chicagofed.org/digital_assets/publications/working_papers/2007/wp2007_23.pdf">Low-wage workers spend more</a> when the minimum wage is raised, according to a 2011 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/ib341-raising-federal-minimum-wage/">This spending</a> in turn boosts the economy and job growth, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Raising The Minimum Wage Does Not Hurt Employment
<a href="http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/min-wage-2013-02.pdf">A number of</a> <a href="http://davidcard.berkeley.edu/papers/njmin-aer.pdf">studies</a> have found that raising the minimum wage does not reduce total employment by a meaningful amount.
Having A Minimum Wage Has Kept More Teens In School
<a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w16355">The minimum wage</a> has kept teens in high school longer by reducing the number of low-wage jobs available to them, according to one study.
Prices Don't Always Rise In Response To Minimum Wage Increases
Though Rep. <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/02/13/1587381/top-republicans-oppose-minimum-wage/">Paul Ryan</a> (R-Wis.) recently warned that raising the minimum wage would be "inflationary," prices apparently don't rise in response to minimum wage hikes. For example, <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w3997">fast food restaurants in Texas</a> did not raise prices in response to federal minimum wage increases in 1990 and 1991, according to one study.
Letting The Minimum Wage Fall Could Increase Income Inequality
<a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w16533">The erosion of the minimum wage</a> -- that is, the decline of its purchasing power as prices rise -- contributed to income inequality among poorer Americans in the 1980s, according to one study.
Worker Benefits Don't Get Cut In Response To Minimum Wage Increases
<a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w3655">Minimum wage increases</a> did not lead to reduced <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w9688">worker benefits</a>, according to two studies.
Raising The Minimum Wage Does Not Shorten Workdays
In New Jersey, <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w6386"> employers did not cut their workers' hours</a> in response to the state's 1992 minimum wage hike, according to one study.
Most Minimum-Wage Workers Are Adults
Contrary to popular belief, <a href="http://www.epi.org/blog/affected-president-obamas-proposed-minimum/">84 percent of minimum-wage workers</a> are age 20 or older, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
A Falling Minimum Wage Contributes To Obesity
<a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w15485">The erosion of the minimum wage</a> has contributed to growth in U.S. obesity by making fast food cheaper and more popular, according to one study. Meanwhile, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/01/02/us-healthy-food-idUSPAR27349420080102">healthy food</a> has become more expensive.