If you haven’t heard the news, Los Angeles just increased its minimum wage for the first time in years, marking what is the first in a series of scheduled increases that will bring California’s minimum wage closer to what a living wage actually is in the state.
I think this is a great idea, and it’s an idea that both Republicans and Democrats tend to support time and time again when asked that question in polls. Higher minimum wages don’t generally mean fewer jobs, or at least they don’t mean fewer jobs to the extent some have predicted in apocalyptic terms. Providing a minimum wage frees up money in the economy for the lowest-income workers, who are statistically almost certain to reinvest all of that money directly into the economy if not pay off debt and then spend more into debt. This returns more into the economy that was put into it through mandated higher wages. More money in the economy and more demand for goods and services creates more jobs. It’s a beautiful cycle, really.
Having higher wages is also important as a means of reducing the size of government spending, something conservatives prioritize above all else and something liberals look at when deciding where to redirect social spending. More people earning a living wage means less working poor still applying for government benefits like food stamps and Medicaid. That means more government revenue is freed up, adding more years to government programs’ solvency or creating waste that the government could cut out.
Win win, right?