Debunking 3 conservative myths about minimum wage

by: Erik Kirkstein

"By taking better care of our coworkers, they will take better care of our customers, who will take better care of Ikea. We see it as a win-win-win opportunity." - Rob Olson, the acting president of IKEA U.S., on their decision to boost the hourly minimum wage of IKEA workers to $10.76.

This week marks 5 years since the federal minimum wage was raised. While states across the country have moved forward to raise their minimum wages and give workers the boost they need, Wisconsin’s minimum wage is stagnant at $7.25 an hour.

While workers across Wisconsin continue raising their voices through strikes and petitions drives aimed at putting the minimum wage question before the voters with county referendums on November 4, the myths being pushed by conservatives and right-wing politicians like Scott Walker are crumbling in the face of facts.

Here’s the latest myth-busting of the right-wing’s 3 favorite lies about the minimum wage:

Myth #1: Raising the minimum wage hurts job creation

FACT: States that recently increased their minimum wage saw higher job growth

The go-to response from conservatives when asked about raising the minimum wage is always to cite its supposed negative effect on job creation. After all, when businesses have to budget higher wages for their employees, that cuts into profits and hampers their ability to expand, preventing new hiring and even resulting in layoffs and cut backs in staff, right?


On January 1st, 2014, 13 states bypassed our gridlocked congress and raised their minimum wages. And the results are in: According to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, states that raised their minimum wage saw faster job growth than those who didn’t.

From the Associated Press:

"In the 13 states that boosted their minimums at the beginning of the year, the number of jobs grew an average of 0.85 percent from January through June. The average for the other 37 states was 0.61 percent.”

Conservatives will no doubt continue spreading this myth, but the facts are clear: raising the minimum wage is not destroying jobs. Far from it.

Myth #2: Small businesses are against raising the minimum wage

FACT: A majority of small businesses favor raising the minimum wage to $10.10

Another knee-jerk response often heard from conservatives is that raising the minimum wage will hurt small business. Small businesses are a key driver of the economy, and an increase in the minimum wage will would it them hardest, leading to everything from reductions in staff to skyrocketing prices to compensate for higher wages.

But when you actually ask small business owners, you get the opposite response.

In a poll released in early July, over 60% of small business owner said they support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. In the poll, 58% of small business employers say that raising the minimum wage would increase consumer purchasing power, and 56% of small business employers say raising the minimum wage would help the economy.

Another poll conducted earlier this year by the nonprofit group Small Business Majority also reported majority support for raising the minimum wage from small business owners.

Myth #3: Minimum wage jobs are just for teenagers

FACT: Of the 28 million minimum wage workers in America, 80% are 20 years old or older

Conservative politicians including Governor Scott Walker love to avoid the reality of minimum wage workers by claiming that low-wage jobs are overwhelmingly for young people.

But once again, the facts tell a different story. Walker’s claim actually landed so far off the mark that it earned him another “False” rating from the nonpartisan group PolitiFact. Here’s why: According to a comprehensive study by the Economic Policy Institute, a staggering four-out-of-five Americans who work at the minimum wage are 20 years and older. This includes millions of parents.

Increasing the minimum wage will give millions of families a boost, in turn boosting the economy and building stronger communities. In Wisconsin, a $10.10 minimum wage would raise wages for 587,000 Wisconsin workers by $816 million, and generates over $500 million in additional economic activity in Wisconsin in the next three years, resulting in nearly 4,000 new jobs.

The facts are clear: Raising the minimum wage is good for families, good for economy and good for business. It’s time to get Wisconsin working again. Sign our petition in support of  raising Wisconsin’s minimum wage to $10.10.

Join our campaign to raise Wisconsin's minimum wage


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