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NY Times: Hiking Minimum Wage Might Reduce Illegal Immigration

By    |   Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:43 AM

Raising the minimum wage could help ease illegal immigration, according to a column in The New York Times by Bruce Bartlett, a former senior policy staffer for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Bartlett noted many states and localities have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour. Democrats tend to support hiking minimum wages, while Republicans often oppose raising them on the belief that would eliminate jobs.

He cited a new proposed ballot initiative in California that would raise that state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour in 2016.

The California effort is led by Ron Unz, a conservative businessman who contends a higher minimum wage would both reduce welfare spending and discourage illegal immigration.

“Cleverly, Mr. Unz has turned the principal conservative argument against a higher minimum wage, that it would reduce jobs by making employment more expensive, into a virtue,” Bartlett wrote.

According to Unz, a large percentage of American jobs at or near the minimum wage are often held by illegal immigrants, so that pricing those jobs out of existence could deter low-skilled workers from coming to the U.S. in the first place.

Bartlett said that studies at Middlebury College and Princeton found that in the early 20th century, the motive behind efforts to raise the minimum wage was to discourage women from entering the workforce.

In his Times column, Bartlett wrote there are some sound arguments for hiking the minimum wage.

“For example, an August study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said an increase in the federal minimum wage would raise aggregate spending in the economy and, hence, the real gross domestic product.

“A higher minimum wage may also discourage some employment of illegal immigrants,” Bartlett concluded. “But making an inadvertent side effect of the minimum wage its principal purpose may do more to divide potential allies than bring them together.”

President Barack Obama supports a Senate bill that would hike the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. According to the Heritage Foundation, the real cost of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, factoring in wages, employer penalties for not paying health insurance, and taxes, would elevate the actual minimum wage to $12.71 per hour.

24/7 Wall Street reported the states with the highest minimum wages are Massachusetts and California, both at $8 an hour; Nevada, Illinois and Connecticut, at $8.25 an hour; Vermont, at $8.60 an hour; Oregon, at $8.95 per hour; and Washington, at $9.19 per hour.

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Raising the minimum wage could help ease illegal immigration, according to a column in The New York Times by Bruce Bartlett, a former senior policy staffer for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
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2013-43-05
Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:43 AM
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