Across the board, public opinion in all three major political groups — Democrats, Republicans and independents — identified unemployment as the nation’s top problem in a recent Gallup poll, released on Feb. 17.
The next day, ironically, an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) — hardly an assemblage of libertarian-leaning economists —projected that the Democrats’ proposed minimum-wage hike from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 “would reduce total employment by approximately 500,000 workers” by 2016, and that job losses could reach 1 million.
The CBO, additionally, estimated that 81 percent of the proposed increased wages would go to workers who are not living below the poverty line. Roughly half the workers currently earning the minimum wage are between ages 16 and 24, many living in middle- and upper-income households.
In contrast, the segment of minimum-wage workers most likely to lose their jobs because of the proposed federally mandated wage hike will disproportionately be those who are the least skilled and least educated — the portion of bottom-rung workers who can least afford to be knocked off the occupational ladder.