If you make it illegal to pay workers what they are worth, you end up hurting low-skilled workers in favor of high-skilled workers. This video is from awhile back, but I haven’t heard Bernie Sanders’ message change.
There are many things wrong with this speech. For one thing, Bernie Sanders’ tax plan for funding new government expenditures demonstrates that he knows that America’s wealth is not mostly owned by a few billionaires.
But let’s skip over all the many problems and focus on one: Sanders doesn’t mention what skills these people have who are being paid less than $15 an hour (plus decent benefits). Logic tells us that a business can’t hire people at a wage that is greater than the revenue they generate for that business. At the very least prices will have to rise to make the wage earners affordable at their higher pay. That means that $15 won’t buy as much as it does now.
But it also means that businesses will have an incentive to not hire low-skilled workers. If you have to pay a filet mignon price, then you would purchase filet mignon rather than pay that much for ground beef.
Thus, an article at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) asks,
What happens when, in a country where workers are free to move, a region raises its minimum wage? Do those with the fewest skills seek out the regions with the highest wage floors?
If minimum wage is such a wonderful thing, you would expect low-skilled workers to tend to move there, all things being equal. But according to FEE, a new study shows exactly the opposite takes place. Low-skilled workers flee if they can. The study found that
workers with the fewest skills were having an easier time finding full-time employment prior to the minimum wage increase. But this trend completely reversed as soon as the minimum wage was increased.
For every one percent increase in minimum wage there is a 1.2 percent increase in the unemployment rate for low-skilled workers.
The jobs of more highly skilled laborers, however, aren’t threatened. No wonder unions love the idea of raising the minimum wage.