Walter E. Williams
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 Some demagogues charge that jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonald's only pay the minimum wage. That's plain wrong, as are many other things said about jobs that start at the minimum wage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Sixty-three percent of minimum wage workers receive raises within one year of employment, and only 15 percent still earn the minimum wage after three years. Moreover, only three percent of all hourly workers and two percent of wage and salary earners earn minimum wages. Most minimum wage earners are young -- 53 percent are between the ages of 16 and 24.

 Furthermore, only 5.3 percent of minimum wage earners are from households below the official poverty line; 40 percent of minimum wage earners live in households with incomes of $60,000 and higher, and over 82 percent of minimum wage earners do not have dependents. My stepfather used to tell me that any honest work was better than begging and stealing. As a young person, I worked many jobs from shining shoes and picking blueberries to delivering packages and washing dishes. Today's tragedy for many a poor youngster is that the opportunities I had for learning the world of work and moving up the economic ladder have either been destroyed through legislation or demeaned by today's do-gooders.

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Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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