Many of the current debates about minimum wage revolve around whether such laws increase unemployment. Such disputes often make it appear that there is a lack of consensus on the issue when, in fact, there is broad-based agreement. For example there are two groups who clearly understand the connection between government-mandated wage floors and unemployment of low-skilled workers: right-leaning economists and left-leaning politicians.
Conservative and libertarian economists are frequently vocal in their opposition to the minimum wage because they know it decreases employment. Left-leaning politicians, however, are less likely to admit the connection but show by their actions that the increases will harm employment. That is why every minimum wage hike proposed by localities has been designed to be phased-in gradually over several years rather than being raised immediately: Seattle’s $15 per hour minimum wage won’t take effect until 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2021 depending on the size and type of employer, Los Angeles’s $15 per hour minimum wage won’t take full effect until 2020, and San Francisco’s $15 per hour minimum wage won’t be in effect until 2017.
If the minimum wage benefits the poor, then why not, as Bryan Caplan asks, just immediately impose the minimum wage you actually want? The reason, Caplan explains, is that local governments want to hide the disemployment effect: