Biden's $15 Minimum Wage Could Kill 3.7 Million American Jobs

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Friday, January 15th, 2021, 11:30 AM PERMALINK

President-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, a liberal wishlist of wasteful spending proposals that would do little to fight the pandemic and could prolong the economic downturn. 

Notably, the Biden plan pushes a $15 minimum wage, a harmful proposal that could kill as many as 3.7 million American jobs and has failed on the state level time and time again. 

Biden’s $15 minimum wage would substantially raise the cost of labor at a time when businesses are already struggling to pay their employees and keep the lights on. Small businesses with thin margins will be forced to pass the costs on to consumers that will inevitably take their business elsewhere, leading to a further loss of revenue and layoffs. Businesses that have been shuttered temporarily may decide not to reopen at all in the face of a $15 minimum wage. 

While this drastic increase in labor costs would be a bad idea in normal times, the impact would be even worse during a pandemic that has ravaged American small businesses. Yelp data shows that 60 percent of business closures from the pandemic are now permanent. 

Government policies are directly responsible for inflicting much of this economic damage. Government-mandated lockdowns forced hundreds of thousands of businesses to close their doors and kicked millions of Americans out of work. In areas where some businesses were allowed to reopen under onerous government restrictions, Nancy Pelosi’s $600-per-week unemployment expansion discouraged Americans from going back to work, as 68 percent of Americans got paid more on unemployment than in the workplace. 

A $15 minimum wage would lead to further job losses for Americans. In 2019, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that a nationwide $15 minimum wage would cost at least 1.3 million American jobs, and could cost as many as 3.7 million at the high end. Another study shows that a $15 minimum wage would disproportionately impact women and shut out young, low-skilled workers attempting to enter the workforce for the first time. 

The Biden plan also ends the tipped minimum wage, an absurd proposal considering 10,000 restaurants have closed their doors in the last three months alone. Imposing a 600 percent minimum wage increase on an already struggling industry in the middle a recession would only lead to more closures. If Biden is successful, one in three tipped workers would lose their job. 

A $15 minimum wage has repeatedly failed at the state level. When Seattle implemented a $15 minimum wage, thousands of jobs were lost, while other workers saw a reduction in hours worked. New York City’s minimum wage increase forced 75 percent of restaurants to cut employee hours, and nearly 50 percent to eliminate jobs entirely. 

Ultimately, Biden’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour will kill millions of American jobs and cause thousands of additional small businesses to permanently close their doors. This is the last thing American workers and small businesses need as the economy attempts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress should reject this harmful proposal wherever it appears.

Photo Credit: jlhervás

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