Another Perspective on Minimum Wage

Mark Perry has one in his Carpe Diem column for AEIdeas.

In a recent post, I posed the question: rather than calling it “an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 (or $15) per hour,” if we instead called it “imposing a $2.85 (or $7.75) per hour tax on employers who employ or hire unskilled workers,” would it make any difference to those who support “an increase in the minimum wage”? Maybe not for some of the strongest advocates of a higher minimum wage, but perhaps it would make a difference for some weaker advocates who were never challenged to think of it that way?

He then calculates the associated payroll taxes (a tax on the tax, or a surtax, in his construction) based on full time work (i.e., 40-hour work weeks) and the larger minimum wage increment, but what would that surtax work out to for the typical minimum wage worker’s half-time employment?

The employer tax of $2.85 would work out to an additional tax of $2,850 per year per part-time minimum wage employee. The surtax on that under current payroll tax law would come to just under $220 per year per employee, or a total employer tax of just under $3,070 per year. Per employee.

How many small business employers (the Walmarts of the world are an aberration) can afford that additional labor cost tax? At what point does an employer, of any size, decide the work being done isn’t worth the mandated cost and either stops doing it or automates it?

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