Raising minimum wage will only hurt employment rate

Holly New

Raising the minimum wage will do more than increase paychecks.

According to Eyder Peralta of NPR, President Barack Obama proposed raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015 in his State of the Union Address on Feb. 12. A little closer to home, according to Ray Long, Monique Garcia and Rafael Guerrero of the Chicago Tribune, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed raising Illinois’ minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 an hour over the next four years in the State of the State Address on Feb. 6.

According to a Gallup poll released March 6, about 71 percent of those surveyed said they supported raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour from $7.25, while 27 percent opposed the raise.

I am in the 27 percent.

I, like many other college students who work minimum wage jobs to support myself, know how difficult it is to pay bills when I’m only earning $8.25 an hour.

However, I also know what it’s like to work for a small business, and I know the financial strain so many businesses go through. Could a raise in the minimum wage cause more problems than it would solve? If businesses have to struggle to pay their employees, then workers could have their hours cut or even be laid off. I would rather have some income than no income. I question if raising the minimum wage would only generate a larger divide between the employed and the not—that is, those who are lucky enough to have a job will at least have more money.

So here’s where the problem lies: In a nation with a 7.7 percent unemployment rate and 25.1 percent unemployment rate among teenagers, is raising the minimum wage the right thing to do? Teenagers are more likely to work minimum wage jobs, so will this raise hurt their unemployment rates even more?

“When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,” John Boehner, speaker of the House, said in a White House Conference on Feb. 13. “Why do we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?”

There are so many questions that come with a decision like this, and it’s hard to predict the results. I don’t think forcing employers to shell out more money is the answer. We should work on increasing employment, not wages. I agree with Boehner in that employment is harder to create when its cost is high.

Our economy is not ready to withstand putting more pressure on our employers, and until it is, raising the minimum wage is a bad idea.