Trib editorial: Give tax cuts a chance before raising minimum wages |

Trib editorial: Give tax cuts a chance before raising minimum wages

This year’s federal and state elections would be incomplete without at least some mention by candidates — primarily Democrats but sometimes Republicans — of raising Pennsylvania’s $7.25 minimum wage.

After all, 32 states and at least 20 cities have higher minimum wages than Pennsylvania, which falls in the bottom third among U.S. states with regard to its wage floor, according to a PennLive report earlier this year.

So naturally in his bid for a second term Gov. Tom Wolf has renewed his call for a minimum-wage boost up to $12 an hour. Not only would this put more money in the pockets of the poor, he says, it could reduce welfare costs by $101 million annually.

What goes unaddressed, however, are the unintended consequences of government — not markets — setting minimum wages. A working paper recently released by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University documents that since 2000, higher minimum wages have led to a decline in teenage employment, “making young adults less employable,” writes Elizabeth Stelle for the Commonwealth Foundation.

Instead of hurting the very people they profess to help, proponents of minimum-wage jacking should first consider how federal tax cuts for businesses large and small this year will affect wages throughout the commonwealth. If past is prologue, wages will rise without the need for government’s ham-handed intervention.

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