Focus Point - Minimum Wage

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. It's bad enough Congress gave Bill Clinton his one dollar minimum wage hike. Worse is the lame reasoning from the White House why it was necessary.

According to the president's own National Economic Council, in 1999 only 4.6 percent of all hourly workers were paid at or less than the minimum wage. Of these, 30 percent were teenagers, 60 percent were part-timers. Only 10 percent of all minimum wage earners -- 338,000 in a labor force of 141 million -- maintained families.

The fact is the minimum wage primarily benefits those who don't need it. Ninety-one percent of the benefits of the last minimum wage increase went to families with incomes with twice or three times the poverty level.

Meanwhile, those supporting families on minimum wage jobs get the shaft. In today's tight labor market, a higher minimum wage may not hurt marginal workers; but in a recession, they're the first to go. By that time, of course, Bill Clinton will be gone, and Congress will be busy with other things.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, French Communists get it right.