Minimum Wage Hike Would Help 16.5M, Cost 500K Jobs

CBO says Dems, GOP both right on Obama plan

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 19, 2014 4:40 AM CST

(Newser) – Democrats argue that President Obama's plan to raise the minimum wage will lift people out of poverty, while Republicans say the move will kill jobs—and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says they're both right. The CBO has stoked debate with a report estimating that the plan to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016 would cost somewhere between very few and 1 million jobs—its best guess is 500,000—while lifting around 900,000 families out of poverty and boosting the incomes of 16.5 million low-wage workers, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The CBO report includes an analogy that shows just how far the minimum wage has fallen in real terms, the Washington Post finds. Over the past 30 years, an average of 5.3% of workers earned between the old and new minimum wages when Congress brought in a hike, but under the proposed rise, 10.1% of workers do. The White House, unusually, disputed the CBO's findings, saying the lost jobs estimate is probably too high, reports the New York Times. Top Republicans, however, welcomed the report, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling the proposed wage rise a "devastating blow to the very people that need help most in this economy."

President Obama greets a baker at a Costco store in Lanham, Md. the morning after speaking about the minimum wage in his State of the Union address last month.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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The large majority would have higher wages and family income, but a much smaller group would be jobless and have much lower family income. - The CBO explains the increase's two main effects on low-wage workers

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