, Corbin, KY


April 25, 2014

Kentucky needs a minimum-wage holiday rather than a hike

CORBIN — By Jim Waters

It’s likely that the state Senate’s refusal to pass House Bill 1, forcing Kentucky businesses to increase their minimum wage by a whopping 39 percent, improves the summer employment chances of thousands of high-school and college students now filling out job applications.

However, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who’s running for the U.S. Senate, in a recent op-ed blasted opponents of increasing the minimum wage as being uncaring.

“Raising the minimum wage is a win-win policy, and employers of all sizes agree that giving their employees a livable wage is good for business,” she opined.

One question for a future column: Does Grimes understand the difference in forcing employers to pay a higher wage versus allowing them to choose to do so?

While young workers currently employed might enjoy some economic benefit from a minimum-wage increase, Grimes’s attempt to paint her opponents on this issue as unsympathetic to the plight of the poor lacks credibility by failing to offer so much as even a nod to the impact of such a hike on the employment prospects of these eager job-hunting Kentuckians.

Absent from her rant was any acknowledgement of the Bluegrass State’s burgeoning unemployment rate that has reached 16.9 percent among 16 to 24-year-olds – higher than the youth jobless rates in 32 other states and Washington, D.C. – or how a government-mandated pay hike improves the job chances for these young, unskilled, unexperienced and unemployed workers.

If Grimes really wants to help the young, poor and disadvantaged instead of engage in unproductive class warfare for political gain, why doesn’t she propose a minimum-wage holiday?

Since she and her liberal ilk often claim that economists’ varying views make it difficult to reach definitive conclusions about the impact of government-mandated wage policies on hiring practices, why not find out by observing how Kentucky employers and unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds respond if the state suspends the minimum-wage requirement just for the summer?

I first heard about this idea from Kathy Gornik, who co-founded Thiel Audio in Lexington. Gornik thinks employers and young people would react in an overwhelmingly positive way.  

“My bet is that you would see a lot of $5 an hour jobs done the normal way, not through a special program,” Gornik said. “The employment experience would be wonderful for these kids, and it would give them the work experience they need to get their foot on the low rung of the employment ladder with a basis for moving up, rather than standing on the ground and nowhere to go – and they’d be doing it all on their own.”

My own bet is that supporters of forced minimum-wage hikes would be left explaining how it is that the youth unemployment rate dropped – perhaps dramatically – and how thousands of young workers were imminently grateful to obtain badly needed experience that strengthens their resumes and chances for grabbing future career-type positions.

Those who drink the liberal Kool-Aid sincerely believe they help the poor by socking it to job creators. But all these advocates really do is offer ideas that harm the employment chances of those they purport to help by:  

Reducing the incentive of employers to take chances on these workers by hiring them. Business owners simply will conclude that they cannot afford to pay $10.10 per hour to young, unskilled and inexperienced workers who cannot contribute at least the same amount to the company’s profit.

Removing the one competitive advantage that lower-skilled workers have when competing for jobs: the price it will cost employers to hire them. Like everything else in the marketplace, when the price (forced minimum wage) goes up, the quantity purchased – in this case, the number who could have been employed – goes down.

Sounds like a “lose-lose” to me.  

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at Read previously published columns at

Text Only
  • LIKE IT OR NOT: MLB's All Star effort was a bust

    With the 85th edition of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in the books, I have to say I feel like the whole thing was a complete bust.

    July 18, 2014

  • THE WAY IT IS: Some local teams can make a run

    Well folks, our Little League All-Star action is beginning to wind down, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see two of the Tri-County’s resp

    July 17, 2014

  • LIKE IT OR NOT: It's been a very busy summer

    While a lot of people would expect the local sports scene to slow down in the Tri-County in the summer time, that’s not usually the case for us here at the Times-Tribune.

    July 16, 2014

  • John Ross.jpg May we all cherish those few WWII vets who still live

    I watch this old BBC program pretty often called “Are You Being Served?” It’s mostly out of syndication — what shows remain can be seen most often through PBS.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0502 Bobbie Poynter So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu

    I never have been very good at saying goodbye — family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, community — for years you’ve had my back and in turn, I believe I’ve had yours.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie Ellis.jpg ‘Uh hummm!’ It’s been an interesting week

    One column can’t cover everything from a busy week of political events, but here are some quick takeaways from last week.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brad Hall.jpg Let’s multiply our numbers like fleas do

    Last Saturday, my wife, Carmen, and I spent the day at the Kings Island theme park near Cincinnati, Ohio.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Burkhart.jpg Not an earthly trace

    Just married (1897) and in his late 20’s, my grandfather was determined to make a living on a hillside farm covered in wilderness; much as his father had done before him in 1846  when he arrived from Germany.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brad Hall.jpg Col. Mustard with the candlestick in Heaven

    One of my favorite movies is the murder mystery comedy “Clue,” which is based on the popular board game of the same name.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Burkhart.jpg Now or Never

    A story is told of an old widower who decided it was time to find a new wife. He chose to look for this new bride through the obituaries column; identifying new widows.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Featured Ads
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide