Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Very minimal wage
March 18, 2009 10:26 PM   Subscribe

Today Kansas became one step closer to raising its state minimum wage and shedding its embarrassing position as lowest set state minimum wage in the nation at $2.65 per hour. (Kansas minimum wage is lower than Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, though 5 states currently have no minimum wage whatsoever.) The Kansas Department of Labor estimates that over 20,000 Kansans earn less than the federal minimum wage. After passing the Kansas Senate by a vote of 33-7, will the Speaker of the House allow a vote on Senate Bill 160?
posted by jlowen (72 comments total)

 
$2.65? I didn't know. What's the Matter with Kansas? $2 fucking sixty-five? I thought this was the United States of America. This is why I teach geography. ($2.65? No.).
posted by emhutchinson at 10:33 PM on March 18, 2009


What
posted by niles at 10:35 PM on March 18, 2009


Good god. When I work in B.C. I make $11.50/hour, because even the corporate hotel world recognizes that the cost of living is so high that the minimum $8/hr won't do.

$2.6-freakin'-5? Seriously?
posted by riane at 10:38 PM on March 18, 2009


How come American Apparel hasn't opened up shop there yet?
posted by GuyZero at 10:40 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


From Raise the Wage:

Which categories of workers are not covered by the federal minimum wage and are instead covered by the Kansas minimum?

•Workers whose employers gross under $500,000 annually and don’t produce for interstate commerce
•Childcare workers
•Companions for the elderly and infirm
•Farm workers whose employers use under 500 person-days of farm labor per year
•People who work for certain small newspapers or work for certain amusement and recreational firms


That's so bizarre. I think I just had my "but..but...this is America!" moment. (I'm young, ok?)
posted by niles at 10:41 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Kansas minimum wage was last raised in 1988. The Kansas republican party is VERY sensitive to the idea that they are a national joke and are begrudgingly going along with reform efforts only because they are tired of the attention and sick of dealing with this issue every year. Hint hint.. The Speaker of the House link has his email address.
posted by jlowen at 10:47 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


•Childcare workers
•Companions for the elderly and infirm


Good night, the last people in the world I want making *$2.65 an hour* are the people taking care of my children and my parents.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:50 PM on March 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


That's $106 a week, gross. That's enough to buy a couple gallons of milk and that cake that Marie Antoinette suggested.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:53 PM on March 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


At least there's a minimum to raise. It's the States without a minimum wage at all that are even more appalling.
posted by jokeefe at 10:54 PM on March 18, 2009


Before everyone gets all confused and stuff...YES, KS state min wage IS $2.65/hour. The federal minimum wage is $6.55/hour.

There are MANY states with minimum wages that are below the federal minimum wage. There are MANY states with minimum wages above the federal minimum wage.

The way it goes is like this with states:

Does the state minimum wage fall below the federal minimum wage?
If yes, then you must pay the federal minimum wage, like in Kansas.

Does the federal minimum wage fall below the state minumum wage?
If yes, then you must pay the state minimum wage, like in California.

Of course there are TONS of ways around these rules.

Child labor is cheaper (although the number of hours is limited).

Also of note is that those who are mentally handicapped can be paid BELOW the minimum wage. WalMart does not hire mentally handicapped greeters/cart-retrievers out of the kindness of their hearts; its a business decision. They would rather pay someone lower than minimum wage than minimum wage.

Good luck...to all of us.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:56 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does the state minimum wage fall below the federal minimum wage?
If yes, then you must pay the federal minimum wage, like in Kansas.

I wish this were so, but it isn't that simple. As Niles explained above, there are plenty of exceptions to this rule, and plenty of Kansas employers who pay only the Kansas minimum wage (I lived there for several years.)

No one's mentioned that in Kansas, you get time-and-a-half for overtime hours ($3.98 an hour!) - only overtime in Kansas doesn't kick in until you've worked (I believe) 46 hours in a week!

Pathetic.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:03 PM on March 18, 2009


Huh. As a resident of Kansas, I always thought our non-farm minimum wage was 4.something. Not that it matters; federal limits still apply for most jobs.
posted by pwnguin at 11:11 PM on March 18, 2009


I suspect that those making $2.65/hr are deeply, deeply concerned about the capital gains tax and are therefore earnestly voting republican at every opportunity.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:13 PM on March 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


I suspect most people making 2.65 an hour are being paid off the books, in some fashion or another.
posted by pwnguin at 11:15 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Federal, state, whatever. It should all just be called a slave wage, or a barely-keep-someone-alive wage.
posted by dopamine at 11:16 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even if the new minimum wage passes, I'm sure the wingnuts in the legislature, school boards, local governments, etc., will continue to do their part to make Kansas the laughing stock of the civilized world. Sigh.

/perpetually embarrassed Kansan
posted by amyms at 11:16 PM on March 18, 2009


Does bread cost less in Kansas? Here in CA I buy Orowheat or store brands at 2 for five dollars.

Excuse me for repeating myself: 2 fucking sixty five an hour? I'm with dopamine on this one. Why bother to pa people anything at all if it doesn't even pretend to approach something known as a living wage?

Cake.
posted by emhutchinson at 11:33 PM on March 18, 2009


Wow, they must have so many jobs!
posted by heathkit at 11:34 PM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


that was "pay," not pa.
posted by emhutchinson at 11:34 PM on March 18, 2009


I suspect most people making 2.65 an hour are being paid off the books, in some fashion or another.

Well, not in Kansas, evidently. Why pay some employees cheaply off the books when you can be cheap and legal?
posted by niles at 11:35 PM on March 18, 2009


Well, not in Kansas, evidently. Why pay some employees cheaply off the books when you can be cheap and legal?

Exactly. Most people in Kansas are paid much more than $2.65 an hour, but there are many who make only that much. Legally. The vast majority of the population of Kansas lives in the eastern third of the state, where you won't find a huge percentage of people making that little (although there are some.) But if you're west of Manhattan, KS (aside from Salina and Wichita), watch out. There are plenty of folks in places like Garden City who make $2.65 an hour. Still not a majority by any means, but it's pretty criminal (IMO) than any worker make that little.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:19 AM on March 19, 2009


Well, there's one reason to not want to live in Kansas. $21.20/day for an eight-hour workday? That's not even enough motivation to get out of bed.
posted by jamstigator at 12:44 AM on March 19, 2009


Good god. When I work in B.C. I make $11.50/hour, because even the corporate hotel world recognizes that the cost of living is so high that the minimum $8/hr won't do.

The starting minimum in BC is $6. It's embarassing, but it's not Kansas. WTF KANSAS!?
posted by klanawa at 12:46 AM on March 19, 2009


You could probably beg for more than that.
posted by dibblda at 12:57 AM on March 19, 2009


Holy shit, that's $20 a day before taxes (hopefully you don't have to pay taxes in THAT bracket). Unbelievable. I mean, maybe my shock at this figure is tempered slightly by living in San Francisco. I'm sure the cost of living is orders of magnitude higher here than Kansas. But still, WTF?

I'm curious, though, how many employers actually pay this much? I think that'd be more interesting data than the minimum wage, which of course no employer *has* to honor.
posted by cj_ at 1:56 AM on March 19, 2009


There are MANY states with minimum wages that are below the federal minimum wage. There are MANY states with minimum wages above the federal minimum wage.

Well, your first MANY=6, your second MANY is more accurate, unfortunately people living in Kansas, Wyoming, Arkansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Georgia are not included in that second MANY. The Kansas part was the subject of this post. I don't think people in those six states making the state minimum wage would find much solace in the fact that many states are above the federal minimum level.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:27 AM on March 19, 2009


Note: There are five bible-beltin' states with no minimum. Wonder what average wages are in those states.

Sorry for the double post, just wanted to be fair in responding to hal_c_on.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:30 AM on March 19, 2009


I think that'd be more interesting data than the minimum wage, which of course no employer *has* to honor.

Please explain why no employer has to honor (I assume that means pay) minimum wage. It being the law and all.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:36 AM on March 19, 2009


The minimum wage in Poland (see here for various European minimum wages) is 1,276 zlotys a month, or (1,276 zlotys/160) 7.97 zlotys an hour at 40 hours per week. At the current exchange rate, that's about 2.38 US dollars an hour.

So Kansas is paying minimum wages on an Eastern European scale, but living isn't as cheap in the US as it is in Poland. According to the Big Mac index, a Big Mac is about 2 dollars in Poland and about 3.50+ in the US. How much is a Big Mac in Kansas?
posted by pracowity at 3:58 AM on March 19, 2009


I worked in Kansas for minimum wage as a waitress for years.

At one very small, very slow restaurant the tips sometimes made it up to 5.15/hr (the minimum wage at a time), but even when they DIDN'T I still had "5.15" written down on my check so that the proper taxes could be taken out. So even though I wasn't getting paid 5.15/hr I was getting taxed at that level.

The second waitressing job I had had the option of "benefits," but for the waitresses that took the benefits they usually created a negative check. So every two weeks they had to pay the owner part of their tips for payday to make up the difference of their hourly pay and the amount of benefits they had.
posted by aetg at 4:03 AM on March 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


damn. now everyone is going to want to move there.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:13 AM on March 19, 2009


Everyone who wants to open a sweat shop.
posted by pracowity at 4:47 AM on March 19, 2009


Holy crap. $2.65 wasn't that much in 1988 either.
posted by DU at 5:08 AM on March 19, 2009


$2.6-freakin'-5? Seriously?

This is what we have to remind foriegners of when they think 20% tips are outrageous.

Wow, they must have so many jobs!

Ex-fucking-actly.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:15 AM on March 19, 2009


Please explain why no employer has to honor (I assume that means pay) minimum wage. It being the law and all.
You (intentionally?) misunderstood me. My point is that even if the minimum wage is $2.65, employers can still pay more if they choose to. They aren't forced to pay only the minimum wage and nothing more.

I imagine most "menial" jobs in Kansas pay more then $2.65. I want to know how many employers actually pay $2.65 before I let my blood pressure go up over the issue. If everyone in Kansas is earning $2.65 an hour, I think I would have heard about it by now, or the cost of living is such that it's sufficient compared to the minimum wage where I live (San Francisco -- I pay $3000k a month for a shitty 2 bedroom).

If Kansas is actually filled with people making $20 a day and starving, well, clue me in. I'm not snarking here, it wouldn't surprise me at all, I just haven't heard about it until now.. I'll get behind Kansas if it can be demonstrated to me that people are actually earning this wage. But from what I'm reading, the Federal minimum wage is trumping this in most cases.

d
posted by cj_ at 5:19 AM on March 19, 2009


Wow, they must have so many jobs!

Yeah, three or four apiece!
posted by notsnot at 5:23 AM on March 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


This reminds me of an old Chris Rock bit:
"I used to work at McDonald's making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? It's like, "Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it's against the law."
posted by chillmost at 5:39 AM on March 19, 2009


You (intentionally?) misunderstood me. My point is that even if the minimum wage is $2.65, employers can still pay more if they choose to. They aren't forced to pay only the minimum wage and nothing more.

Not intentionally, no. An employer can, of course, pay more than they are required by law to pay. If, however, there is not a labor shortage, they don't have a lot of incentive to pay more. if there is a labor glut, they may not even have the indirect incentive that paying more attracts better employees.

If everyone in Kansas is earning $2.65 an hour, I think I would have heard about it by now...

Yes, you would have, because the employers of a lot of those people would be violating the Federal minimum wage law. As has been repeatedly noted above, the state law only applies to a limited set of workers. As a couple of comments have indicated, that set is far from zero.

I'm somewhat curious why you think the number of employers paying Kansas minimum wage is more significant than the number of employees getting it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:52 AM on March 19, 2009


"I pay $3000k a month for a shitty 2 bedroom..."

Jesus, what do you get paid, 10 million a month?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:20 AM on March 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


cj_: "it's sufficient compared to the minimum wage where I live (San Francisco -- I pay $3000k a month for a shitty 2 bedroom)."

I know SF is pretty crazy, but three million a month for an apartment?
posted by mullingitover at 6:25 AM on March 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


only overtime in Kansas doesn't kick in until you've worked (I believe) 46 hours in a week!

Not true, it starts at 40.
posted by interrobang at 7:06 AM on March 19, 2009


I'm curious as to why Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands were chosen as comparisons?
posted by Bango Skank at 7:12 AM on March 19, 2009


I'm curious as to why Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands were chosen as comparisons? Because it embarrasses Kansas Republicans, who like to think those places to be provincial backwaters.

On a related note, we have been trying to get this bill through the legislature for a looong time. I have testified before Senate and House committees for at least 3 years in a row on this issue. And others carried the torch long before me. Its fascinating some of the arguments the opponents use which seem to focus on this contradiction: First, No one actually earns the state minimum wage as EVERYONE is covered by the Federal minimum wage. (Not true.) and Second, if we pass this bill then it will be ECONOMIC ARMAGEDDON. Jobs will vanish! The economy will crash! Horses will ride Men! (Also not true)

How exactly does that work? If no one actually earns it, why would it be so bad to change it to match the federal?

In the interest of full disclosure, I am President of the Kansas Action Network who is funding the Raise the Wage campaign as linked to in Niles early post. Thanks for posting that link Niles! I couldn't make the self-link under fear of banishment and shame.
posted by jlowen at 7:37 AM on March 19, 2009 [10 favorites]


Kansas
Jan09 unemployment: 5.8%
Median wage: $13.97
posted by FuManchu at 7:47 AM on March 19, 2009


Isn't that kind of embarrassing for Kansas? I mean when they were writing down $2.65 didn't they stop and think "shall we make it up a bit 'cos that looks so small?"

No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a TWO FUCKING DOLLARS SIXTY FIVE? ARE YOU HIGH? JESUS TITTY FUCKING CHRIST KANSAS - Aneurin Bevan
posted by fullerine at 8:18 AM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interesting, KS DOL stats show that even in the non-metropolitan areas that the lowest hourly median wage was $6.43, for "Musicians and singers." Child care workers' median wage is $7.21.

Or should I just be screaming outrage?
posted by FuManchu at 8:37 AM on March 19, 2009


Also of note is that those who are mentally handicapped can be paid BELOW the minimum wage.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:56 AM


Honest question here. I'm not accusing you of making shit up. HOLY SHIT?! Is this really true? Can you point us to a reputable source that says this?
posted by marxchivist at 9:15 AM on March 19, 2009



marxchivist,


http://www.dol.gov/compliance/guide/minwage.htm#BasicPro

Even if it's on the books to be legal, I don't know how many mentally handicapped are employed (I think it could be larger than you'd suspect, maybe a million) or what their average hourly pay is.

A cursory quick google search revealed that at least one state, Ohio, has its own law on the books for it.
posted by fizzix at 9:32 AM on March 19, 2009


It hasn't been legal to pay $2.65 an hour in Kansas for over thirty years. The minimum wage in Kansas—and all U.S. states—has been $2.90 or higher since January 1979.

Save your outrage for where it actually applies.
posted by oaf at 9:34 AM on March 19, 2009


Wow, a whole $2.90?!

Here we are getting bent out of shape for nothing.
posted by ODiV at 9:42 AM on March 19, 2009


How much is a Big Mac in Kansas?

$20, same as in.....oh, never mind.
posted by tristeza at 9:48 AM on March 19, 2009


$2.90 in 1979 dollars = $8.18 in 2007 dollars
posted by oaf at 9:48 AM on March 19, 2009


"It hasn't been legal to pay $2.65 an hour in Kansas for over thirty years. The minimum wage in Kansas—and all U.S. states—has been $2.90 or higher since January 1979.

"Save your outrage for where it actually applies."


Oh, $2.90. Well, that is different, by about a quarter.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:02 AM on March 19, 2009


It hasn't been legal to pay $2.65 an hour in Kansas for over thirty years. The minimum wage in Kansas—and all U.S. states—has been $2.90 or higher since January 1979.
As noted many times, the Federal Minimum Wage does not apply to everyone.
posted by Flunkie at 11:14 AM on March 19, 2009


Good god. When I work in B.C. I make $11.50/hour, because even the corporate hotel world recognizes that the cost of living is so high that the minimum $8/hr won't do.

This sucks but let's have some perspective. Living in Kansas is probably a lot more like living in the prairies (min wage $4.85 when I started work) than the west coast. Why would you compare the most expensive place to live in Canada to Kansas? Is there something about Kansas I don't know? Can no one afford to have an unrented basement there?

Also: I wonder if those states not having min. wage laws are emboldened by the abuse Kansas takes to keep themselves out of the running. They really shouldn't just be an afterthought in a story like this and their service industries no doubt like it that way.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:25 AM on March 19, 2009


Someone wrote: It hasn't been legal to pay $2.65 an hour in Kansas for over thirty years. The minimum wage in Kansas—and all U.S. states—has been $2.90 or higher since January 1979.

I wrote: only overtime in Kansas doesn't kick in until you've worked (I believe) 46 hours in a week!

Someone wrote: Not true, it starts at 40.

You're both wrong. Many companies do start overtime at 40 hours, but some don't - it's not the law. Here's the law as of 2008:

Kansas Minimum Wage and Overtime Law (K.S.A. 44-1201 et. seq.)

Guarantees a minimum wage of $2.65 per hour for workers 18 years of age and older. Overtime pay is required after 46 hours of work in a work week. Employees and employers who are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is Federal law, are not covered by this law.

posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:39 AM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


As noted many times, the Federal Minimum Wage does not apply to everyone.

Well, yes, but most people don't talk about salaried employees in terms of their hourly wage.
posted by oaf at 11:43 AM on March 19, 2009


Please read the comment by niles.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:15 PM on March 19, 2009


As noted many times, the Federal Minimum Wage does not apply to everyone.
Well, yes, but most people don't talk about salaried employees in terms of their hourly wage.
What about child care workers? Do most people talk about them in terms of their hourly wage?

Please read the thread.
posted by Flunkie at 12:20 PM on March 19, 2009


Living in New Zealand is a pain in the ass sometimes, but then I see stuff like this and I'm glad I got out. Seriously, minimum wage here is $12 an hour. Also everyone is entitled to 4 weeks of vacation a year.



Come to uuuuuuuuuuus in New Zeeeeeeeeland!
posted by supercrayon at 12:54 PM on March 19, 2009


So, I've always wondered, whenever people quote these crazy low numbers for wages in various parts of the world: how is it that people survive on this? I don't just mean food. To me, housing is always the biggest expense. How many people do you have to cram into a 1-bedroom apartment to make ends meet? I don't know what rent is like elsewhere in the country, but here in Austin, $500 a month for an apartment will get you a lovely little rathole in the death-by-gunshot district. And to earn just that (i.e. no food) at $2.65/hr you'd have to work 48 hours a week. I don't think I understand how this ever works.

I don't care what you believe about entitlements and social Darwinism and the greatness of the free market, but I think it's pretty clear that widespread poverty hurts a society, whether you're one of the poor people or not. I mean, I can only imagine how high crime rates must be, how nasty many public places (bus stops?) must be, and how low popular enthusiasm and collective will to solve problems must be in a place like that. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about any of those.
posted by Xezlec at 1:35 PM on March 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


What about child care workers? Do most people talk about them in terms of their hourly wage?

Babysitters (being those child-care workers who are exempt) generally get paid by the hour or by the evening, at least in the U.S.
posted by oaf at 3:21 PM on March 19, 2009


So, I've always wondered, whenever people quote these crazy low numbers for wages in various parts of the world: how is it that people survive on this? I don't just mean food. To me, housing is always the biggest expense. How many people do you have to cram into a 1-bedroom apartment to make ends meet? I don't know what rent is like elsewhere in the country, but here in Austin, $500 a month for an apartment will get you a lovely little rathole in the death-by-gunshot district. And to earn just that (i.e. no food) at $2.65/hr you'd have to work 48 hours a week. I don't think I understand how this ever works.

I don't care what you believe about entitlements and social Darwinism and the greatness of the free market, but I think it's pretty clear that widespread poverty hurts a society, whether you're one of the poor people or not. I mean, I can only imagine how high crime rates must be, how nasty many public places (bus stops?) must be, and how low popular enthusiasm and collective will to solve problems must be in a place like that. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about any of those.
posted by Xezlec at 5:35 AM on March 20 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]

A-fuckin'-men, Xezlec.

I always bring this up, but I live in Beijing, and if you ask how people live on $100/mo., or $4-500, or $1000 if they're working 70-hour weeks and have a boss that pays their salary on time...sure, you eat, and you can afford medical care. Things are cheap enough here that you can get by on that; commodities are about 1/3 the US average. What you sacrifice is "enthusiasm and collective will to solve problems". The people who have the time and energy to care just aren't enough. And this is in the city, where $200/mo. for 12-hour days of backbreaking labor is considered vastly preferable to life on the farm.

Most people in this city are just warm bodies in the grinder. Pay 'em enough to keep 'em warm long enough to get their best years out of them. The intangible sacrifices (and tangible, like dirty bus stops) are everywhere.
posted by saysthis at 7:03 PM on March 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do I know what rhetorical means?
posted by Flunkie at 10:23 PM on March 19, 2009


Way to go Kansas. Now the 20,000 people who had jobs will be fired and replaced with more competent individuals. I guess none of the knee-jerk liberals who support these laws really think them through.

Say I've got Tom who is a chronic drug addict and general all around screw-up at life. Tom is not very good at anything, but I can pay him peanuts to do some labor that I quite frankly wouldn't want to waste on someone competent. Now the state says that I can't pay Tome peanuts. What am I going to do? Am I going to pay Tom the new minimum wage despite the fact that I could only justify employing someone with his limited skills on the basis of his cheap labor. No. If I have to pay a larger wage, I'm going to fire Tom and hire someone who is competent. The only reason I put up with Tom coming in late or showing up a little high was because he was a source of cheap labor. There won't be an increase in unemployment so long as the task I need done can't be outsourced. I'll have to hire someone, but Tom isn't going to have a job. He was barely treading water before, but now he's going to find it impossible to keep a steady job.

Let's also mention that high school dropout rates go up among young black men whenever the minimum wage is raised. Why go to school when that job at the 7-11 seems so nice at 16. Never mind the fact that you'll still be at that job in 20 years.

By the way, Kansas' unemployment rate is half that of California.
posted by snookums at 7:11 AM on March 20, 2009


I was earning more than $3.00/hr as a babysitter twenty-five years ago in a podunk town in North BC.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:10 AM on March 20, 2009


Let's also mention that high school dropout rates go up among young black men whenever the minimum wage is raised.

Better yet, let's show some evidence of that being the case. Smells like methane to me.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:06 AM on March 20, 2009


Say I've got Tom who is a chronic drug addict and general all around screw-up at life.

State legislatures don't write minimum wage laws with these kind of people as their central case.

I can pay him peanuts to do some labor that I quite frankly wouldn't want to waste on someone competent.

Keeping the minimum wage depressed to encourage more pointless make-work projects is probably not the best possible economic strategy.

By the way, Kansas' unemployment rate is half that of California.

California's unemployment is primarily due to problems in agriculture, including the 3-year drought. Unlike Kansas, California's crops cannot be mechanically harvested for the most part, so you end up with legions of unemployed fruit pickers when things go bad. If the minimum wage was one cent there would still be no work for farm workers in CA's central valley.
posted by GuyZero at 10:02 AM on March 20, 2009


GuyZero, I don't think that's true. First because unemployment is usually quoted in the nonfram payroll number.

Second because according to the BLS, yoy changes to payroll were worse in CA for almost every sector. Results of the Jan09 / Jan08 % payroll change below, apologies for the bad formatting.


Payroll % Change YoY                     CA          KS
TOTAL                                 -3.3%       -0.5%
Construction                         -15.5%       -5.9%
Manufacturing                         -5.6%       -4.8%
Trade,Transport, Utilities            -5.0%       -0.6%
Financial                             -5.5%       -2.3%
Professional Services                 -3.4%       -0.3%
Education and health services          2.3%        1.5%
Leisure and hospitality               -2.0%        0.3%
Government                             0.1%        2.9%

posted by FuManchu at 12:39 PM on March 20, 2009


Kirth Gerson - Better yet, let's show some evidence of that being the case. Smells like methane to me.

No. I won't show any evidence, although I could. Since no one else in this thread has been asked to provide detailed citations proving their belief that minimum wage increases are good, I see no reason why I should become your personal research assistant. I don't like the one sided way that people who support the bias here are constantly challenged to provide evidence while those who go with the party line can say anything without justification. But since I'm trying to be honest here, I'll point out that the trend is most noticeable in state where students are allowed to drop out before the age of 17.

Guy Zero - State legislatures don't write minimum wage laws with these kind of people as their central case.

It isn't just these kinds of people. I was using an exaggerated case to make a point. it could just as well be the single mother who constantly has to change her schedule, because of her kids. Every individual gets payed by their employer based on the skills that they bring to the table. If their employer is paying them at a lower wage than the market value of their skills, they'll soon get wise and move on to a higher paying job. That's why you can't expect to hold someone if you pay them half the wages that someone of their skill would be payed anywhere else. Not many people are that gullible. If they are, they'll wise up eventually.

The point is that the wages a person can demand, their worth as an employee if you want to call it that, isn't some arbitrary number that their employer or the state gets to pick. That's why someone works at McDonald's for $5.50/hr. It isn't because McDonald's holds a gun to their head and forces them to accept the low wage. It's because they can't walk into any other business and show them anything that would make them want to pay anything more than McDonald's pays. If they could, they wouldn't be flipping burgers at McDonald's and bitching about how unfair their wages are. They'd have moved on to a better job.

The point is that you, or the government, can't change the value of someone's work by edict. It's like trying to push down an air bubble underneath wallpaper. The pressure has to be released somewhere. If the minimum wage is $5.25 and you change it to $6.25, the $5.25 workers doesn't become a $6.25 worker by magic. While they might not be fired due to management already being invested in them, they will be eventually replaced by a higher skilled individual, and every individual who applies to the job will face a higher barrier of entry than they would under the previous minimum wage. Management will lower on the job training and start looking for people who have previous experience. Laws like this hurt the poor, the unexperienced, and immigrants more than any other group, because they will be the ones who don't make the cut. The funny thing is that this was the direct intent of the legislators who voted for the original minimum wage laws. Go back and read the speeches in Congress at the time. It was all about how raising wages would reduce the marginal value of immigrants and poor workers to companies and force them to hire men of "quality." In the end, it is pointless. Labor is a product like anything else, and price controls have been shown time and time again to be counter-productive.
posted by snookums at 8:39 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I see no reason why I should become your personal research assistant.

Fair enough. In turn, I see no reason why I should pretend to be a gullible idiot who believes unsupported assertions on the Internet.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:47 AM on March 21, 2009


No. I won't show any evidence, although I could. Since no one else in this thread has been asked to provide detailed citations proving their belief that minimum wage increases are good, I see no reason why I should become your personal research assistant.

LOL. You're right, so far, only one person has been asked to show research. That person has refused. Nonetheless, I will volunteer to provide something, despite not being asked, just because I enjoy exposing fakes.

Wikipedia's take.

There, now, read that, and learn that there are two sides to the argument (at least).

The problem with your uber-simplified, libertarian economic model is that in reality, money is power. People with money, having more power, can manipulate things in a lot of different ways to force people to accept lower wages. And yes, if your choices are accept the wage you're offered or starve, you do effectively have a gun to your head. Also, there is only a "labor market" if the workers have perfect knowledge and are perfectly rational (the fundamental assumption of libertarian economics), neither of which is the case here in the real world.

Let's get specific: you talk about a competent person having a job if the MW is higher, and a less competent person getting it otherwise. I don't see what's wrong with hiring the competent person. The number of jobs is the same either way. The argument you guys make for why there would be fewer jobs with a higher MW is supposed to be that people will hire more people to do a job if they are cheaper. In reality, though, labor costs are not necessarily the constraining factor on the number of people hired. In fact, a lot of the money that business makes is just profit. If labor costs go up, AIG execs buy a slightly smaller mansion. I'm not necessarily saying labor costs have no effect on employment, but I can just about promise you that they don't fit the nice little computer-generated inverse proportionality curve you saw about in your econ textbooks.
posted by Xezlec at 8:49 AM on March 21, 2009


« Older The Giving Tree...  |  Movie posters carry the movie ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments