The $24 An Hour Minimum Wage

The idea of a $24 an hour minimum wage is also worth thinking about in the context of racial inequality, where we have disproportionately relegated Blacks to the lowest paying jobs. It is not acceptable that Blacks are so much more likely than whites to work as custodians or housekeepers, and so much less likely to work as doctors or lawyers, but that is the reality we have today.

While still far from fair, the situation would be quite different if custodians and housekeepers earned $24 an hour, and doctors and lawyers earned on average something close to half of their current pay. And in that situation, the children of custodians and housekeepers would likely have much better prospects of becoming doctors and lawyers than is the case today.

But to allow for more pay at the bottom, we have to do something about pay at the top. And that means changing the way we structure the market. And, if we aren’t paying attention to restructuring the market, we aren’t serious about addressing inequality, including racial inequality.  

[1] This calculation uses a very conservative measure of productivity that adjusts for the difference in gross and net output and the difference between inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index and the GDP deflator. These issues are discussed here and here.

[2] These data are taken from National Income and Product Accounts, Table 1.13, Line 7 plus Line 8, divided by Line 5, plus Line 6, plus Line 7, plus Line 8.

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