The retail trade industry was the second largest employer of people making at or below the minimum wage. In 2013, it provided jobs to 468,000 people at that pay level.
The combined 2,078,000 who earned at or below the minimum wage in restaurants, bars, and retail equaled about 63 percent of all workers earning at or below the minimum wage.
The restaurant, bar and retail industries have something in common other than employing a large majority of the workers earning at or below the minimum wage: They have unemployment rates higher than the national rate of 6.6 percent. In January, according to BLS, the unemployment rate was 9.3 percent for workers in the food services and drinking places industry and 8.5 percent for workers in the retail trade industry.
Will increasing the minimum wage increase or decrease employment in these and other industries that employ minimum-wage workers? Will it help grow or slow the economy?
The Congressional Budget Office examined a proposal that would phase-in Obama's minimum wage increase over three years. "Once fully implemented in the second half of 2016, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3 percent," said CBO.
CBO concluded this federally mandated wage hike would cause a slight short-term boost to the economy followed by a slight long-term drag. "In the long-term," said CBO, "that reduction in work-force lowers the nation's output and income a little, which means that the income losses of some people are slightly larger than the income gains of others."
"For business owners, family income (including income for shareholders) falls to the extent that firms' profits are reduced," said CBO. "In addition, real family income for many people tends to fall a bit, because the increase in prices of goods and services reduces families' purchasing power."
Hiking the minimum wage means redistributing wealth. It takes money from three classes: Young people working for the minimum wage who will lose their jobs, the business owners employing them and the customers now patronizing those businesses.
It seeks to benefit one miniscule class Americans should seek to make smaller not larger: Those who see the minimum wage not as a stepping-stone but as a career.