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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Minimum wage could be hot topic in 2016, prof says

With Election Day approaching, a question remains as to how incoming state officials could affect the Texas minimum wage.
Joseph Ura, associate professor of political science, said the minimum wage debate is not a key factor in this election, but it would be essential to the election in 2016.
“It is likely that the minimum wage will come up as part of a set of issues dealing with economic inequality,” Ura said. “In the short run it seems like something that is relatively quiet, but in the long run and at the national level I think it will be an increasingly important part of the national conversation.”
Economics professor Jonathan Meer and doctoral student Jeremy West wrote “Effects of Minimum Wage and Employment Dynamics” in December 2013. The article concludes that increases to the minimum wage hurt the economy.
Meer said they were working on an unrelated paper when their study’s specifications consistently revealed that minimum wage increases had a significant negative effect on employment.
“We didn’t know much about the literature, but delved into it and after a lot of work have shown that increases in the minimum wage reduce job growth — that is, there isn’t an immediate drop in employment, the way we might show on a graph in an introductory course, but rather that the rate of employment expansion slows down,” Meer said.
Dennis Jansen, economics professor, said the article by Meer and West analyzed the minimum wage data from a unique approach.
“Instead of trying to determine the effect on the level of employment, they try to look at the effect on job creation,” Jansen said. “They find that when the minimum wage has been increased, the rate of creation of new jobs — minimum wage jobs — decreases.”
Kenneth Briggs, mechanical engineering graduate student and treasurer for Young Americans for Liberty, a campus libertarian group, said he feels minimum wage laws have additional damaging effects on the economy.
“We believe that the minimum wage is actually detrimental to the economy and the prospects of minimum wage workers,” Briggs said. “The minimum wage increases unemployment. Additionally, it prevents low-skill workers from getting entry-level jobs in order to get the skills they need to earn higher wages in the future.”
Briggs said a minimum wage increase hurts small business, which find it more difficult to adapt to the new costs than larger businesses. Sociology professor Arthur Sakamoto said sociologists view the minimum wage debate from a different angle, one focused on bargaining power. A term traditionally associated with unions and similar institutions, bargaining power is the collective ability for people to have an influence on their wages.
“The traditional sociological perspective emphasizes bargaining power, which extends beyond supply demand conditions,” Sakamoto said. “Sociologists have seen the minimum wage as a way of offsetting the bargaining power of the powerful.”
Sakamoto said sociologists also consider how the debate on minimum wage policy has changed over time.
“In the 20th century, minimum wage may have been more effective, but in the 21st century it is more difficult to determine its impact,” Sakamoto said. “Poverty issues have become a great deal more complicated. In the 21st century minimum wage can’t be used in isolation, it must be used as a tool in combination with other resources to be effective.”
Echoing the complexity of the matter, the Texas Aggie Democrats said in a statement that the advantages of a minimum wage increase are greater than the disadvantages.
“Texas Aggie Democrats respects the views and findings Meer and West expressed in their paper from December 2013,” the statement read. “However, it is our position that the facts and evidence prove that the benefits of raising the wage far outweigh the potential cons.”

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