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From a worker's viewpoint, raising minimum wage would seem to carry a number of benefits. Opponents disagree, claiming that an increase only means employers must pay more money to less skilled workers while at the same time expecting more from the employees. For a variety of reasons, higher minimum wages may actually work against the best interests of businesses, workers and customers as well.
Makes College Less Appealing
According to Max Borders in an article written for the Washington Examiner in March 2011, roughly half of all minimum wage workers are 24 and under, and teenagers alone comprise nearly 25 percent. Better minimum wages for workers in this age range may prove a deterrent to getting a college education. When faced with the choice of earning an immediate income or the potential of a better income after four or more years of additional schooling, young people tend to lean towards the former, says corporate-law scholar Stephen Bainbridge.
Opponents of increasing minimum wage believe that doing so accomplishes little in the way of reducing poverty. The population of minimum wage workers is relatively small when compared to other members of the working force, so only a select group of individuals benefit from the change. Additionally, a raised minimum wage does nothing for those who are unemployed to begin with.
Hurts Unemployment Rates
Some companies, especially in the case of small business, are less likely to hire employees if minimum wage is raised. Since the cost of hiring an untrained worker is higher, companies may elect to work with smaller staffs instead of taking the financial hit of running at full capacity. This in turn leads to unskilled workers having a harder time finding jobs, sending unemployment rates up and hurting the economy in the process.
If businesses are forced to pay more to employ workers, budgets are affected accordingly. To help with the bottom line, prices may go up as a way of retaining money spent on providing extra compensation to minimum wage workers. Companies are essentially forced between losing money or risking dissatisfied customers by increasing prices, which ultimately means lower profits either way. If a business does manage to keep up financially, it's the customers that suffer. If the business fails, the workers suffer.
Spencer Hendricks has written for various well-regarded blogs. His work has appeared in the "Kickapoo Prairie News" and online at sprayahen.com and Spencer Vs. The Food Industry. He is currently in the process of obtaining a degree in Web development.