Thomas Sowell

 The net economic effect of minimum wage laws is to make less skilled, less experienced, or otherwise less desired workers more expensive -- thereby pricing many of them out of jobs. Large disparities in unemployment rates between the young and the mature, the skilled and the unskilled, and between different racial groups have been common consequences of minimum wage laws.

 That is their effect whether the particular minimum wage law applies to one sector of the economy like the Davis-Bacon Act, to the whole economy like the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 or to particular local communities like so-called "living wage" laws and policies today.

 The full effect of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was postponed by the wartime inflation of the 1940s, which raised wages above the level specified in the Act. Amendments to raise the minimum wage began in 1950 -- and so did the widening racial differential in unemployment, especially for young black men.

 Where minimum wage rates are higher and accompanied by other worker benefits mandated by government to be paid by employers, as in France, unemployment rates are higher and differences in unemployment rates between the young and the mature, or between different racial or ethnic groups, are greater.

 France's unemployment rate is roughly double that of the United States and people who are unemployed stay unemployed much longer in France. Unemployment rates among young Frenchmen are about 20 percent and among young Muslim men about 40 percent.

 There is no free lunch, least of all for the disadvantaged.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate