September 10, 2015 2:28PM

Why Is $15 the “Right” Minimum Wage?

Earlier today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $15 per hour minimum wage for his state; Vice‐​President Joe Biden joined the press conference.

Cato and other scholars have long argued against any minimum wage; see here. I will not re‐​hash those arguments today.

Instead, let’s ask the proponents of a minimum wage why, if a $15 per hour minimum is good, why isn’t a $150 per hour minimum better? 

The answer will presumably be, “Well, $150 per hour would kills job.” 


So why is not the same true of $15 per hour, just to a milder degree? How can proponents seriously claim that minimum wages do not affect employment? Existing evidence does show small effects from most minimum wage hikes; but that is because those hikes have been modest. Were they ever large (as with Cuomo’s proposal), substantial disemployment and other distortions are inevitable.