Raising British Columbia’s minimum wage to $10 per hour could cost as many as 52,000 jobs, according to a report by The Fraser Institute released yesterday.
"(The increase would) have a profoundly negative effect on employment opportunities for young and low-skill workers, and will have almost no effect on those most in need of income and a job," said Niels Veldhuis, director of fiscal studies at the Vancouver-based think tank.
B.C. NDP Labour Critic Chuck Puchmayr, who supports raising the minimum wage, called the report biased because it was produced for a right-wing organization.
“There have been studies in the United States that include research by Nobel laureates that say the opposite,” Puchmayr said. “There hasn’t been a minimum wage increase in B.C. in 10 years and that has created a lot of working poor.”
The report, titled The Economic Effects of Increasing B.C.’s Minimum Wage, says that past experience across Canada shows a 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage is likely to decrease employment by 3 to 6 per cent among all workers aged 15 to 24. For young workers earning between the current $8 per hour wage and the proposed $10 per hour wage the impact is more acute, leading to job losses of 4.5 to 20 per cent.
The report goes on to point out that higher minimum wages can induce high school students to drop out and search for employment.
The authors also say there is a general misunderstanding of who earns the minimum wage. In B.C., 56 per cent of them were between the ages of 15 and 24 and of those 87 per cent lived at home with family.