The influential Congressional Budget Office – widely viewed as a nonpartisan scorekeeper for US fiscal and economic policy – weighed in on a controversial issue Tuesday, releasing an estimate that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would cost the nation’s economy 500,000 jobs.
In a nation where adding jobs and reducing unemployment ranks as the top public priority, the estimate of 500,000 lost jobs is a headline-grabbing conclusion. It doesn’t help President Obama sell his proposed hike in the minimum wage.
By Tuesday afternoon, the White House and its allies were pushing back vigorously against the CBO’s job-loss tally.
The sparring over the impact on jobs exposes a real debate on wage policy among economists. Where backers of a $10.10 minimum wage argue that enacting this higher pay rate could happen with little or no loss of jobs, foes argue that a higher minimum means less hiring by businesses.