Thomas Sowell

The hard facts say otherwise. Back in the 1940s, there was no less racism than today and black teenagers had no more education than today, but their unemployment rate was a fraction of what it is now -- and was no different from that of white teenagers.

What was different back then? Although there was a minimum wage law on the books, the inflation of that era had raised wage rates well above the specified minimum, which had remained unchanged for years.

For all practical purposes, there was no minimum wage law. Only after the minimum wage began to be raised, beginning in 1950, and escalating repeatedly in the years thereafter, did black teenage unemployment skyrocket.

Most studies show unemployment resulting from minimum wages. But a few studies that reach different conclusions are hailed as having "refuted" the "myth" that minimum wages cause unemployment.

Some of these latter studies involve surveying employers before and after a minimum wage increase. But you can only survey employers who are still in business. By surveying people who played Russian roulette and are still around, you could "refute" the "myth" that Russian roulette is dangerous.

Minimum wage laws play Russian roulette with people who need jobs and the work experience that will enable them to rise to higher pay levels. There is now a glimmer of hope that more people are beginning to understand this, despite political demagoguery.


Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate