Higher wage means fewer jobs
Gov. Pat Quinn's call for a minimum-wage hike may be effective politics, but it's terrible policy.
Because politicians love to be loved, they love to hand out goodies.
That instinct is even stronger for elected officials seeking re-election. But since Illinois is broke, Gov. Pat Quinn has no goodies to hand out.
So Quinn announced last week that he'll hand out goodies anyhow and make other people pick up the tab.
Quinn announced in his State of the State address that he's backing an increase in the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour. Illinois' current minimum wage is $8.25 an hour, third highest in the country and $1 more than the federal minimum wage.
No matter, Quinn said; biblical principles mandate an increase.
It's doubtful the Bible takes a formal position on minimum-wage issues, but Quinn's contention is nonetheless clear — workers are entitled to fair compensation for their toil, and Quinn has concluded that requires a minimum wage of $10.
Unfortunately, Quinn either doesn't understand or doesn't care about the laws of economics.
He's pricing minimum-wage workers, who tend to be young, inexperienced or low-skill, out of the market. Minimum-wage workers will get a pay raise under the Quinn plan, but fewer of them will get hired.
The best way to drive wages up is to build a strong economy that creates jobs and competition among employers for workers. It's supply and demand.
Take North Dakota, where the oil boom has created so many jobs that there is a shortage of workers. McDonald's restaurants are, according to news reports, advertising jobs that pay decidedly un-McDonald's-like wages of $17 an hour.
But Illinois is not North Dakota. Unemployment here is above the national average, around 9 percent. Our economy is growing at a glacial pace. Our business climate is hostile to job creators. State government is not just sloppily run, but corrupt. That's not the atmosphere businesses are looking for when they consider expanding or relocating. Now Quinn wants to apply a minimum-wage increase to make a bad business climate worse.
Cooler and wiser heads should prevail.