Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage is being implemented, and as free market advocates warned would happen, the bad news just keeps rolling in. Hispanics, young people and those without a high school diploma are all more likely to face reduced job prospects as a result of minimum wage hikes. In fact, as the minimum wage increases, the employment rate of Hispanic workers without high school diplomas drops. Instead of helping the least fortunate, a mandate on minimum wage does the most damage to those who are most in need of opportunity.
The negative impact of Seattle’s minimum wage hike vindicates the warnings of many academics and employers. Thousands of vulnerable workers have lost their jobs, the unemployed have become even less employable, and Latino families (like others in these impacted areas) have lost their ability to earn their livelihoods because opportunistic politicians and unions put good intentions before proven outcomes.
Policymakers should consider more reliable alternatives to a mandated minimum wage. Eliminating unnecessary occupational licensing, and reforming the criminal justice system to grant second chances to ex-offenders, are more sustainable long-term strategies for creating economic opportunities for Latinos and all Americans across the country.
Daniel Garza, president of The LIBRE Institute; Arlington, Va.