Letter to the editor: Thoughtful, phased-in minimum wage increases work

In the guest editorial that appeared in the Jan. 15 edition of the Addison Independent Emerson Lynn claims that raising the minimum wage “would only hurt those it would be set up to help.” It’s hard to see why earning more money would hurt the beneficiaries of higher wages.
People who oppose raising the minimum wage often claim that employers will cut jobs if wages are raised. However, study after study has shown that job loss is minimal or nonexistent as long as increases in the minimum wage are not too extreme and are done gradually. Going to $15 an hour over the next three to five years would seem to meet this condition.
A second objection has to do with the so-called “benefits cliff.” This refers to the fact that some low wage earners may lose certain social benefits or services if a higher minimum wage puts them above a given eligibility threshold. Clearly legislators considering increasing the minimum wage need to structure any increases in such a way that the intended beneficiaries don’t come out net losers.
Raising the minimum wage in a gradual and thoughtful manner can stimulate our economy, since most of the additional wage dollars will be spent locally. It may enable some low-income people to move off social benefit programs supported by other taxpayers. Most importantly, it will contribute to the financial independence and dignity of working people at the low-wage end of our economy.
Spencer Putnam

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