Last week, state lawmakers in Illinois voted in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The move is heralded as a win for the working man by groups like the ‘Fight for $15’—but in reality it reduces employment opportunities and impedes the success of small businesses.
We all want to raise average wages, but raising the minimum wage will not reach that end goal and will instead harm the businesses that provide employment opportunities to begin with. It conjures the old saying, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
Entry-level wages are for exactly who it sounds like, entry-level workers. It can be thought of as career training wheels to help people learn the elementary job skills that will allow them to more easily move up the career ladder in the future. Removing the bottom rung simply barricades success for those who need it most.
Instead of raising the training wheel wage, policymakers should focus on encouraging people to attend trade or vocational schools, which are much cheaper and less time consuming than traditional four year colleges. The hard skills acquired through this education avenue can many times lead to jobs that pay $50,000 or more a year. There are 3 million of them already available and just waiting for people with the right skill set to fill them.
Raising the entry-level wage is simply bad policy and will do nothing to solve the problem of stagnate incomes. Hopefully the governor of Illinois also sees it that way and vetos the legislation