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The Minimum Wage and those Inconvenient Facts

April 3, 2014
Oren Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

Critics of the minimum wage often assert that not only is it misguided because of its adverse employment effects, but it is poorly targeted because most minimum wage earners are not poor. Rather they are secondary earners who are either spouses or teenagers. And those who scoff at claims of income inequality maintain that those at the bottom lack the skills necessary to command higher wages in an economy ever more biased towards advanced technology and skills. But these claims are really half-truths that miss some inconvenient facts.


"Minimum Wage Critics' Hypocritical Obsession with Unemployment"

January 27, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

Since the beginning of the New Year, a couple of states have raised their minimum wages and President Obama plans to call for an increase to $10.10 an hour. Additionally, the Democratic Party plans to incorporate the minimum wage into its 2014 midterm election platform. Of course, the critics are already out with the standard bromides that it will lead to lower employment, and that it is particularly a bad idea in a weak economy. And yet, when the Fed announces an action that could also lead to unemployment, all of a sudden there is silence.


"The Social Costs of Paying Low Wages"

March 5, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

The recent release of the Congressional Budget Office’s report that an increase in the minimum wage could lead to a loss of as much as one million jobs by 2016 has created quite a stir. Those  on the right hailed it as proof that an increase in the minimum wage is a bad idea precisely because we are still plagued by long-term unemployment. Meanwhile, those on left hailed the report as a vindication that the minimum wage would result in at least 16 million Americans getting a raise, which in turn would benefit the economy through increased spending.


Why Inequality Matters

January 14, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

During the recent mayoral race in New York City, Mayor Elect DeBlasio made an issue out of income inequality. For market purists, this is no doubt a red herring used to justify redistribution. A free market where individuals enjoy equal opportunity means that they can make their own choices. As such, those who end up with more obviously made the right choices. Moreover, they worked hard for whatever they acquired.


Rising Income Inequality, the Minimum Wage, and the Median Voter Theorem

February 19, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

Rising income inequality, of course, is problematic because it symbolizes the dual nature of our economy and the shrinking middle class. It is also dangerous to democracy because it tilts the power balance in policy formulation towards the interests of the wealthy away from the poor and the middle class. What is often not talked about is the relationship between rising income inequality, increased pressure for redistribution, and in the extreme revolution.


What Can we Learn from Long-Term Unemployment in the New York City Metro Area?

November 20, 2013
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman

Among the problems that we as a nation have been grappling with since the end of the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, is the persistence of unemployment, or more specifically long-term unemployment. It has been commonplace to assume that long-term unemployment is due to  structural change which has resulted in a skills mismatch.


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