Congress should raise minimum wage
President Obama's call to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour instantly produced the standard arguments for and against a higher minimum wage.
Those for it quite rightly say that someone working full-time can't support a family on 14,500 a year; those against it say that employers will compensate by hiring fewer people, thus hurting low-income workers.
Abundant study doesn't fully support either camp. More than half of minimum-wage workers are younger than 25, indicating that they are in entry-level or part-time jobs. But the record also shows that employers mostly absorb minimum wage increases and move on.
Actually, most economists say that the best way to help low-income workers is to expand the earned income tax credit, but that won't happen amid the current political environment because of its cost to the federal treasury.
Congress should raise the minimum wage, though, because the effect is broader. Minimum wage increases usually produce modest wage increases for low-income workers who earn more than the minimum and who are far more likely to be trying to support families.
Wage stagnation has been a serious problem for working-class families for many years. Congress should enact an increase in the minimum wage to put upward pressure on all wages on the lower end of the spectrum.