Advocates of increasing the minimum wage usually base their support of such increases on their estimate of how much a worker needs in order to have a living wage. At the same time they assume that the worker is the sole earner in his/her family and the family is totally dependent on the earnings of that one person.
These assumptions are simplistic and generally false. Most of those earning minimum wage are young people, under age 25, in entry-level jobs. Raising the minimum wage impacts young and minority workers disproportionately and increases their unemployment by pricing them out of the job market.
Teenage unemployment is already at 20.8 percent and African-American teenage unemployment is at 35.8 percent. Increasing the minimum wage adversely affects precisely those whom it is intended to help. Most minimum-wage workers are not heads of households; more than half are students or other young people, usually working part-time. Also, less than three percent of workers in the U.S. earn the minimum wage, and nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers get a raise in their first year.
Instead of blindly assuming minimum-wage increases benefit poor people, it might be worthwhile to look more thoughtfully at the actual consequences.