Burtless comments on fast food workers’ call for higher minimum wage

In an appearance on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” this afternoon, Brookings Senior Fellow Gary Burtless observed that fast food workers who are engaged in walk-outs and calling for a higher minimum wage today are also asking for a “more egalitarian distribution of income after taxes are paid.”

“That doesn’t mean we’re going to have lower taxes at the top,” he added. “It probably means we are going to have higher taxes at the top.”

When asked if raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will solve the problem, Burtless, the John C. and Nancy D. Whitehead Chair, replied that “Fifteen dollars in one jump is a little bit of a stretch. I think that there would be some adverse employment consequences. But boosting it to 10 bucks or 12 bucks an hour is certainly feasible without very much in the way of adverse employment consequences.” Watch:

Burtless appeared on the segment with Manhattan Institute economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth, who offered her view that while the U.S. has income disparity, it also has a lot of social mobility. Burtless responded that:

I don’t think there’s any evidence whatsoever that we have more mobility than countries with whom we typically compare ourselves—Great Britain, Canada, Sweden, Germany. In fact there is a lot of evidence suggesting that at the bottom of the income distribution we have less upward mobility than these other countries do.

It’s no surprise that people want to come to the United States from poorer parts of the world. We’re more accepting of immigrants than much of the world is and, come on, compared with people in Latin America, Africa, [and] most of Asia, incomes are definitely higher even if you come in at the bottom 10 percent of our income distribution.

See more research and commentary on the minimum wage below:

– Can we take the politics out of the federal minimum wage?
– 6 Facts about a Minimum Wage Increase
– Raising the Minimum Wage and Redesigning the EITC
– Seattle’s Minimum Wage Is Now $15 an Hour: Is That a Good Idea?
– Will Raising Minimum Wage Lift Low-Income Families Out of Poverty?
– To Help Households Survive, Raise the Minimum Wage