Labour’s pledge of a $15 hour minimum wage is worth more than any tax cut – $66 a week net to a full-time minimum wage worker. The right is crying it’ll hurt the economy and destroys jobs. That’s rubbish. In particular, the history of changes to the youth minimum wage shows no relation to youth unemployment. The Right are just making excuses for ripping-off workers.
The youth minimum wage was introduced in 1994. Prior to that, there was no legal minimum for workers under 20.
According to the Right’s theory, this infinite increase in the minimum cost of youth labour should have sent the unemployment rate for youths through the roof. Did that happen? No. And it didn’t go up in relation to the general unemployment rate either.
What about when 18 and 19 year olds went from the minimum rate to the adult rate in 2001? Nope, no link there either.
Finally, what about when 16-17 year olds, most of whom aren’t in the work-force, of course, went to the adult rate after 200 hours’ work on April 1 2008? Nope, no link there either. The unemployment rate among 16-19 year olds, most of whom were already on the adult minimum wage, remember, didn’t start rising until six months later. And it did so in conjunction with the general unemployment rate.
It is the never-ending recession through which National has mis-managed this country that is still driving the youth unemployment upwards – it hit a new high of 27.5% last quarter. But don’t expect the right to stop blaming it on the minimum wage. They will invent any excuse to push down workers’ wages and exploit us for greater profits. We can safely ignore their bogus claims.
Instead, lets consider what a $15 an hour minimum wage will do – 270,000 people get a pay rise directly, half a billion a year in total, or $2,000 each. That’s far more than any tax cut could ever deliver. The trade-off is a 1% reduction in the net operating surplus of business, which is making $55 billion this year, much of which is going overseas.
Higher wages are the route to a more prosperous country. Both National and Labour say that. The difference is that National promises that higher wages are just around the next corner – once we earn it through higher ‘productivity’ – and at the same time market us abroad as a low wage economy. Labour, on the other hand, knows there’s plenty of productivity already to justify higher wages already, it’s a question of how fairly that wealth gets shared.
– Bright Red