Senior citizens would get hit hardest by a $15 minimum wage

By Rob Roper

The $15 minimum wage is an increasingly hot topic in the election debates. Proponents have faith that artificially increasing the cost of labor will be a benefit to low-wage workers. Opponents can point to evidence that the $15 minimum wage will force employers to lay off employees, cut hours or go out of business entirely, damaging the overall economy. But the group that will be hurt most by a $15 minimum is senior citizens. Here’s why.

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

According to UVM economist Art Woolf, a majority of Vermonters living below the poverty line do not work. That’s 31,000 non-working poor. Many of these are retired senior citizens living on a fixed income. Of course, if you’re not working you will receive zero benefit from an artificial increase in the wage rate. However, you would be harmed by the very real inflation resulting from the policy.

Businesses would have to pass on the higher cost of labor to their customers in the form of higher prices for goods and services. Senior citizens living on fixed incomes would, therefore, have to pay more for things like food, nursing care, household help, and so on, with no boost in income to help cover those costs. In other words, fixed incomes would not stretch as far under a $15 minimum wage.

State Sen. Richard Westman, R-Lamoille, raised an example from his own life experience in that he would no longer be able to afford in-home nursing care for his aging parent if the $15 minimum wage became law. He also noted that Lamoille Home Health and Hospice would have to raise or charge an extra $80,000 to cover wage increases for their visiting nurses, and that money will have to come from someone, most likely in the form of higher bills to the people in need of the service.

Vermont is the second oldest state in the union when it comes to the average age of its residents, which would mean implementing this experiment here would come with a disproportionately high level of pain.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Andreas Bohnenstengel and Rob Roper

2 thoughts on “Senior citizens would get hit hardest by a $15 minimum wage

  1. $15 an hour kills first jobs for students, or new graduates – many of whom have little job skills, and no job disciplines. At 15 an hour divided by 60 minutes, that is 25 cents each minute. 4 minutes to bag groceries for a single customer, is a huge $1.00 extra cost for an employer, passed on to the customer. The employee as they get experience, and develope work skills may soon be worth $15, and more, and would likely get raises.
    BUT, when you take off the first two rungs in the employment ladder, that ladder becomes useless.

  2. Vermont doesn’t care about it’s “Senior Citizens” Vermonters that have been here their entire lives are being forced out (Over Taxed) All there retirements are being taxed (again)
    and there American Dream, House & Property is being taxed at a rate that can’t be contained in order to fund foolish Liberal Programs. Pretty Sad!!

    Then the Governor cannot understand why Older Vermonters are moving out !! And if any of the younger people looking to settle down, well we can see they are not staying either. Wake up VT, they are ruining Vermont as we know it … for what, an agenda?

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