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Do we really need a minimum wage?

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This minimum-wage rate almost doubled within the next seven years.[1] In the 73 years since the passage of the FLSA, the federal minimum wage has been increased 28 times and decreased only once (in 1963). The most recent adjustment was made on July 24, 2009, when it was raised to $7.25.[2] It should also be noted, however, that states are allowed to mandate their own minimum wage as long as it is not lower than the federal level.

The most common concern I hear when discussing the possibility of eliminating the minimum wage is that companies will be able to get together and gang up on their employees, forcing them to accept wages of nearly nothing. This sounds plausible, but it leaves out two key points: employees are not "forced" to work at a specific place, and competition between businesses will automatically lead to different wages (not just between companies, but within the company as well).

The idea that employees are forced into jobs and exploited for their labor is well represented by the website Minimum-Wage.org. Here is just one statement from the "History" section:

Before the minimum wage was introduced during the Great Depression of the 1930s, there was no national minimum wage, or indeed any legislation to protect workers from exploitation.[3]

This perspective is driven by the idea that workers are not free to choose who they work for and in what conditions, but have to accept what their bosses present them. But workers are free to work where they like (to the extent that they can get hired, that is).

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