What’s the cost of higher minimum wage?

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (WFLA) – As the fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage continues, some may be wondering what the true cost will be. A new government report is highlighting the winners and losers if that happens.

The report says 17 million Americans would get a raise – and more than a million would be pulled out of poverty – if Congress enacted a $15 federal minimum wage.

Heide Shierholz, a senior economist for the Economy Policy Institute, says it’s a no-brainer.

“We will see increase in workers’ wages, a reduction in poverty, a reduction in inequality,” she said.

But the report from the Congressional Budget Office also says some Americans – and some businesses – wouldn’t do so well. The CBO says about 1.3 million people would lose their jobs and business owners would see reduced income.

Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute warns that raising minimum wage could do more harm than good.

“We should also note the report said that America as a whole would be poorer,” he said.

The bottom line seems to be that no one is quite sure about the overall impact of a higher minimum wage.

“Economists are all over the place on this,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said. “What (reports) tend to show is that a number of people get higher wages and a number of people lose their jobs.”

Until Congress takes action, the debate will continue.

“On the basis of annual family wealth, we would actually go down,” Tanner said.

“The benefits of a $15 minimum wage to low-wage workers totally outweigh the costs,” Shierholz argued.

House Democrats say they plan to hold a vote on the issue this session.

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