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Metro Transit has jobs going at $19.94 an hour. So why do we need a $15 an hour minimum wage?

This week, posters like this went up at bus stops across the Twin Cities

Minneapolis City Council has passed an ordnance raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. St. Paul is currently considering similar legislation.

But why? If you are unsatisfied with your wage of $9.65 or $7.87, you can literally double that by going to work for Metro Transit. Instead of gathering in public from time to time, chanting and waving a placard in the hope that a politician will wave a magic wand, just fill in an application.

What is stopping you?

It may be the case that the workload of a Metro Transit bus driver is more than the worker currently has or that the schedule doesn’t work for them in some way. But this shows that there are benefits to minimum wage work in terms of flexibility and workload which offset, to some extent, the lower pay and benefits.

It may be that the worker currently on $9.65 doesn’t have a driving license and would need to get one to apply. This just makes the point that we should expect a job requiring more skills to pay more. It also begs the question of why you would expect an employer to pay you the higher minimum wage if your skills haven’t increased. And anyway, Metro Transit will train you.

The bottom line is that, if employers can’t hire at $19.94, there is no need at all for a legally mandated minimum wage of $15.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 

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