Thomas Sowell

Since employment varies for many reasons other than a minimum wage law, at any given time the effects of those other factors can outweigh the effects of minimum wage laws. In that case, employment could go up after a particular minimum wage increase -- even if it goes up less than it would have without the minimum wage increase.

Minimum wage advocates can seize upon statistics collected in particular odd circumstances to declare that they have now "refuted" the "myth" that minimum wages cause unemployment.

Yet, despite such anomalies, it is surely no coincidence that those few places in the industrial world which have had no minimum wage law, such as Switzerland and Singapore, have consistently had unemployment rates down around 3 percent. "The Economist" magazine once reported: "Switzerland's unemployment neared a five-year high of 3.9% in February."

It is surely no coincidence that, during the last administration in which there was no federal minimum wage -- the Calvin Coolidge administration -- unemployment ranged from a high of 4.2 percent to a low of 1.8 percent over its last four years.

It is surely no coincidence that, when the federal minimum wage law remained unchanged for 12 years while inflation rendered the law meaningless, the black teenage unemployment rate -- even during the recession year of 1949 -- was literally a fraction of what it has been throughout later years, as the minimum wage rate has been raised repeatedly to keep up with inflation.

When words trump facts, you can believe anything. And the liberal groupthink taught in our schools and colleges is the path of least resistance.


Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate