St. Louis Alderman Antonio French is a lot of things, but a coward he is not. He not only opposed a minimum wage increase in St. Louis, in opposition to the leftist mob who was calling for it, he wrote an op-ed in the St. Louis American explaining why. He fears, rightly so, that increasing the minimum wage would hurt the poorer communities first.
Behold, some understanding of basic economics:
For years, the City of St. Louis has competed with our neighbors in St. Louis County for population and jobs. And for years, we’ve been getting our butts kicked. Just since 1970, almost half our population has left the city and moved to the county. And not just white people. Most blacks in this part of the state used to live in St. Louis city. No more. Most now live in St. Louis County.
The same is true for businesses and low-skill jobs. Most have moved into the county. And that migration continues today. If the City of St. Louis raises its minimum wage 50 percent higher than just down the road in St. Louis County, that will only speed up that migration.
And poorer city neighborhoods will be hit hardest – not Downtown, or the Central West End, or South Grand with their higher population density and higher median incomes. It will be places like those along West Florissant, Natural Bridge and Riverview – places where it’s very easy for a business to just move on the other side of the border and still keep many of its customers while cutting its labor cost by 50 percent.
He’s 100 percent correct.
It’s true in St. Louis. It’s true in America.
Minimum wages are price controls. It’s government telling an allegedly free person the minimum they must trade their labor for. When you erect a price floor like this, invariably you get surpluses. In the case of the minimum wage, you get a surplus of labor, meaning there are more sellers (people who want to work), than buyers (people who want to hire.)
And a surplus of labor is called unemployment.
This is an excellent video explaining this:
One thing that needs to be emphasized is who is most impacted by these price controls.
Black youth. George Mason University Economics professor Walter Williams pointed this out in 2009:
Teenagers tend to be low skilled. They lack the experience, knowledge and maturity of adults. That means they will be the primary victims of a minimum wage law. But why are black teens more heavily impacted than white teens? Black teens are far more likely to come from broken homes and attend some of the worst schools in the nation. Therefore, a law that discriminates against the employment of low-skilled workers will have a greater impact on black workers.
How big an impact?
A study by economists William Even of Miami University and David Macpherson of Trinity University concludes that in the 21 states where the full 40% wage increase took effect, “the consequences of the minimum wage for black young adults without a diploma were actually worse than the consequences of the Great Recession.”
So French is absolutely correct here. The minimum wage increase would hurt the poorest communities the hardest. Furthermore, it would hit black youth the hardest.
How is that going to help St. Louis? It won’t. It will only make things worse.
So let’s hear it for Antonio French for standing up and saying something.
Yeah, that’s all he gets, because when it was all said and done, French did come out and say he’d support raising the minimum wage regionally or nationally, completely ignoring the fact that jobs don’t just leave cities or states. They leave countries too.