Growth, mobility, inequality: Three policy experts write their own State of the Union

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  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Jan. 30, 2014 7:54 a.m.

    Throwing statistics out without any cogent analysis is misleading and distorts the facts. Look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics more closely.

    Fact: Relatively few Americans earn the federal minimum wage. In 2011 and 2012, 3.7 million Americans reported earning $7.25 or less per hour...only 2.9 percent of all workers in the United States!

    Fact: Many of those 2.9 percent who earn less than the minimum wage work in restaurants and make more than the minimum wage after taking tips into account.

    Fact: The 50.5 percent of minimum wage earners between the ages of 16 and 24 work PART-TIME jobs (79 percent) and three-fifths of them (62 percent) are currently enrolled in school during non-summer months!

    Fact: Their average family income is $65,900 per year, and only 22 percent live at or below the poverty line, while 68 percent enjoy family incomes over 150 percent of the poverty line.

    If progressives seriously want to help the working poor, they should look elsewhere instead of focusing on symbolic, feel-good tactics that have no practical impact on poverty or wealth creation.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 4:44 p.m.

    Objectified asked "And where is that stat of 50%"
    Bureau Of Labor Statistics: 50.5 Percent Of Minimum Wage Earners In 2011 Were 25 Years And Over In Age. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2011, just over half of all workers paid at or below the federal minimum wage were aged 25 and above, representing 1,933,000 people. [, accessed 2/14/13]

    Hiring Response To Minimum Wage Hikes "More Likely To Be Positive Than Negative." In a March 2011 report, the Center for Economic and Policy Research concluded that wage increases are more likely to result in more, rather than fewer, jobs:

    Our estimated employment responses generally cluster near zero, and are more likely to be positive than negative. Few of our point estimates are precise enough to rule out either positive or negative employment effects, but statistically significant positive employment responses outnumber statistically significant negative elasticities. [Center for Economic and Policy Research, March 2011]

    The sad fact is how easy it is to find vs. how hard it is to find anyone but fox and friends saying otherwise.

  • Objectified Tooele, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 4:05 p.m.

    Happy Heretic:

    And if your talking points were based on any truth, where are your statistics to back them up? Shouldn't you have dug up your statistics and sources as well? One commenter even directly challenged you to provide them, and yet you still haven't. You ask, but you won't provide.

    By the way, only 2% of wage earners make minimum wage. Not a significant amount to be arguing about.

    And where is that stat of 50% of minimum wage earners being over the age of 25 coming from? That's the second time you've mentioned that ever without providing any source. I haven't been able to find it.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 12:41 p.m.

    Minimum wage has been increased many time if the conservatives had any evidence that their talking points were based in truth, they would have dug up the statistics, the statistics don't back up their myths about minimum wage.

    SCFan, I haven't made minimum wage since high school, but I don't even pay neighborhood kids that little to mow my lawn, and I don't know how businessmen can stoop so low. 50% of minimum wage workers are over 25.
    Every time America gives Businesses a choice to do the right thing, they choose to take advantage.
    Kinda like all those hummers driven by dentists as billboards and written off under a farm bill on their taxes, something meant to help farmers buy equipment was twisted so a dentist could write off $1,000. to drive a gas hog wider than the traffic lanes

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 10:39 a.m.

    Most nations today have minimum wage laws, but they have not always had them. Unemployment rates have been very much lower in places and times when there were no minimum wage laws.

    Switzerland is one of the few modern nations without a minimum wage law. In February of last year, Switzerland's unemployment rate was 3.1 percent. A recent (Autumn of 2013) issue of "The Economist" showed Switzerland's unemployment rate at 2.1 percent.

    Most Americans today have never seen unemployment rates that low. However, there was a time when there was no federal minimum wage law in the United States. The last time was during the Coolidge administration, when the annual unemployment rate got as low as 1.8 percent.

    Another thought. Even the categorized "poor" in this country usually have a car, multiple televisions, a cell phone, a computer, and usually even air conditioning. Things poor people in most other countries of the world can't even fathom.

    When minimum wage levels are set without regard to their initial productivity, and have no correlation to it, young people are disproportionately unemployed — priced out of jobs. Very basic economics that many don't consider.

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    @ Happy Valley Heretic:

    You are the one stating your so-called "facts". So instead of first asking anyone to give evidence to the contrary, you should first offer any evidence in support of your contentions... especially statements 1, 3, and 4.

    I've yet to read or hear of any concrete evidence to support those so-called facts of yours.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    Happy Valley H.

    Fact, few people rely on the minimum wage for their life long support. Even when started at minimum wage, after a few weeks, they get an increase. Minimum wage jobs are in most cases teenage part time starter jobs. I hope that you are not the exception and have been getting minimum wage for all your working life. If so, then I can understand your point. Otherwise, minimum wage is largely irrelevent. In places like North Dakota, you can't find a minimum wage job. No one works for that low amount of money when the labor market demands more. The number of people working minimum wage jobs is a sign of a bad economy, and like food stamps, the number of people needing them is a sign that the economy is bad or getting worse. This is Obamas 5 year legacy.

  • spiris333 Hillsville, VA
    Jan. 28, 2014 7:47 p.m.

    That darn Constitution keeps getting in Obama's way. The Grand Socialist Experiment has proven to be a failure, and only reinforces the old adage, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. His incompetence is only topped by his willingness to lie to the American people.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Jan. 28, 2014 4:15 p.m.

    @Mark B:

    Jews were very successful business people. Hatred, and envy was spread through out the land, because of propaganda similar to what we have today. Many people foolishly except this kind of propaganda.

    An example:

    Many people are bitter towards a rich Mitt Romney, but don't mind paying for vacations of a rich President, or wealthy Nancy Pelosi.

    It's crazy!

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 3:50 p.m.

    FACT: Increasing The Minimum Wage Has No Effect On Unemployment, May Increase Hiring
    FACT: Millions Of Workers Depend On Minimum Wage Jobs For Full-Time Work
    -Half Of Minimum Wage Workers Are Over 25.
    FACT: Minimum Wage Increases Do Not Hurt Teen Employment
    FACT: Economists, Researchers Support Increasing The Minimum Wage

    Please post some data that contradicts any of the above, otherwise it's just GOP myths being recycled.
    (Hint it's just GOP myths being recycled.)

  • A Guy With A Brain Enid, OK
    Jan. 28, 2014 3:26 p.m.

    @ scrappy do - DRAPER, UT - "the real question is.. will anyone be watching the state of the union address..."

    Why pay attention to more smokescreens, hollow promises and lies? I'm too smart for that.

    @ 9:56 a.m. Jan. 28, 2014 - Hayden, ID - "What's the matter with you people? Don't you know America will never be a fair and equitable nation until liberal women get free birth control?"

    Ha! Ha! Love the sarcasm. It's about the only funny thing left in America.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 12:36 p.m.

    "The only way to really strengthen the lower and middle classes and create greater economic equality is for businesses to hire more people."

    Of course it is. And a key source of job creation is small business. Businesses can't hire more people when they face a punitive mindset from progressives...capitalism is evil and profit is a dirty word. Those with even an rudimentary grasp of economics understand the negative impact of higher taxes on hiring practices. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Economic illiterates should be reminded that a large fraction of American business income is in the top individual-income tax bracket, and has thus seen even a larger tax increase this year.

    Pray do business hire more people when business success is demonized and punitive policy against capitalism continues to be championed by the left?

  • Mark B Eureka, CA
    Jan. 28, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    Hating Jews didn't come from "class envy". As for here and now, people at the bottom of the corporate structure have a reasonable expectation of higher rewards for higher productivity. This is what they are NOT getting. Instead, the wealth trickles UP.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Jan. 28, 2014 12:10 p.m.

    This president is very divisive.

    Remember the 1930's, when Germans who never met a Jew, were persuaded to hate them, by an evil political leader? Class envy? It's happening here.

    Growth, mobility, and inequality? As if it's the fault of successful people who didn't earn what they have. Success of the backs of the poor. Thanks Obama!

    How was your Hawaiian vacation?

    Every one of has an opportunity to succeed in this country. All of us! Period!

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    Jan. 28, 2014 11:48 a.m.

    To "Kent C. DeForrest" ok, lets look at what you are proposing. You are saying that we should adopt a communist model.

    Tell us, where has communism worked? If having the workers own the company is the way to go, then who leads it? Who would want to start a new company if it will just be turned over to the workers?

    Collectivist philosophies all sound good on paper, but in practice they all fail.

    Capitalism, which you apparently hate, actually brings more people out of poverty than any other economic system that has been tried.

  • Buzzards LEHI, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 11:32 a.m.

    Many look back at the post-WW2 era where a person with a high school diploma could get a job in manufacturing that would support a family. Locally, companies like Geneva Steel, Kennecott Copper, etc... accorded that opportunity. The reason companies could do this was that a large portion of the globe was devastated from the effects of the Second World War.
    As other countries rebuilt or developed in the decades since, they could provide the same goods at a lower cost due to low wages. Thus, Geneva is gone, and Kennecott is a shadow of it's former self.
    The only jobs that will support a family now are professional and highly skilled. That doesn't mean everyone has to be a doctor, it does mean that you better know how to do something that is in demand and do it well.
    It's a new world, and if companies are coerced into paying higher wages without getting higher productivity, there are plenty of people and companies in India, or Singapore, or other countries eager and able put that American company out of business.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Jan. 28, 2014 11:31 a.m.

    What's the matter with you people? Don't you know America will never be a fair and equitable nation until liberal women get free birth control?

  • scrappy do DRAPER, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 9:56 a.m.

    the real question is.. will anyone be watching the state of the union address...

  • practical idealist Richmond, VA
    Jan. 28, 2014 9:46 a.m.

    As I see it changing the hourly wage does not get to the crux of the problem.
    Any living wage would in fact make it possiblw for any one working to support him
    or herself and their dependents until they do whatever it is they do again.
    Changing the hourly wage thus does not actually address the basic problem at all.
    It is but a vocalized, attention grabbing band aid, that does little to actually solve the real problems.
    If carefully examined any new minimum hourly wage may do more harm than good, unless a truly living wage is first addressed. Variables may be needed reflecting reality of the circle of dependents and be woven into all calculations of the way pay scales and or tax policies are actually arrived at. Better tax policies might truly help both all who work and who create the jobs that keep the body social creatively healthy on the bed rock basic social unit of family life. It is a matter of a living wage. not a matter of an increased minimum hourly wage, that may merely export jobs.

  • I_Love_America Murray, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    When minimum wage increases, employers are forced to pass this on to the customer. The cost of a hamburger will rise in proportion to the cost it will now take to employ that person. This is a guarantee. So the benefit will be short lived and we will all pay for it.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 9:25 a.m.

    All of these so-called experts conveniently sidestep the real cause of inequality. It is the initial distribution of wealth. We have a dual pay system in modern corporate capitalism. A small minority are paid as much as possible, while the great majority of workers are paid as little as possible. Human beings are thus treated as commodities, as human resources, as a cost to be minimized. This philosophy is at odds with our political system (representative democracy) and our social ideals (look up the definition of the American dream). The only way to really strengthen the lower and middle classes and create greater economic equality is for businesses to hire more people, pay them better, and, if they really want to be bold, share ownership with them. Worker-owned businesses don't ship jobs off to Third World countries, don't eliminate pension plans, don't treat workers as expendable inputs in the production process. The workers are a primary reason the company exists. Every other strategy falls short and creates new problems.