Another week, another polarizing result from the (nonpartisan) Congressional Budget Office. The new one, which was released yesterday, is about how a minimum-wage increase would affect employment and family income around the country. Like the last report, which had some controversial projections about the Affordable Care Act's effects on the labor force, it's given ammunition to both sides in Washington: to Democrats (who have been calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage in recent months) and Republicans (who oppose it). According to the CBO's projections hiking the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from the current $7.25, would indeed increase overall compensation to low-wage workers by some $31 billion. But the number of workers who would benefit would, per CBO, decline, as companies reduce the number of workers to contain labor costs; total employment would decline by about 500,000 people.
I wanted to offer a comment on this because I've repeatedly argued in favor of raising the minimum wage, specifically in Texas (which is one of the states where the minimum wage is, by default, the same as the federal minimum). I made that argument in my book, and elaborated on it here at Texas Monthly, exactly one year ago. I still think raising the minimum wage would be a good idea--especially in Texas. I'll explain why after the jump.