by James Sherk
The Heritage Foundation
January 21, 2014
Many Members of Congress argue that the government needs to increase the minimum wage to give American workers a raise. But they misunderstand the nature of minimum-wage jobs. They are entry-level positions filled by employees with limited work experience and often few job skills. These workers need to demonstrate their reliability and acquire basic workplace skills before they can qualify for higher-paying jobs. As they gain these skills, they become more productive and earn raises and promotions. Two-thirds of workers in minimum-wage jobs earn raises within a year. Employees who acquire more experience receive faster raises. Minimum-wage increases cut off the bottom rung of these workers’ career ladders. They perversely increase inequality of opportunity, making it harder for inexperienced workers to get started in the labor market. A minimum-wage increase would hurt the very workers Congress wants to help.

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