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Throwback Thursday: Remember when BET opposed minimum wage hikes because they hurt black teens?

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

While Democrats don’t control the White House, Senate, House, and the majority of governorships and state legislatures, their calls for raising the national minimum wage have only grown louder.

In April, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) re-introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. In June, the University of Washington released a study indicating that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Seattle would hurt the overall economy.

Even FiveThirtyEight put it bluntly, “The increase led to steep declines in employment for low-wage workers, and a drop in hours for those who kept their jobs. Crucially, the negative impact of lost jobs and hours more than offset the benefits of higher wages — on average, low-wage workers earned $125 per month less because of the higher wage, a small but significant decline.”

And in Montgomery County, Maryland, PFM consulting group found that they would lose 45,000 jobs, almost $400 million in lost income, and over $40 million in lost revenue.

#FightFor15 advocates argue that raising the minimum wage would improve the standard of living for America’s poorest families, however, they ignore that the people impacted the most negatively are younger people, particularly black teenagers.

Back in May 2011, BET’s Frank McCoy highlighted the post-recession economy, and that any raise in the minimum wage meant increasing unemployment for black teens. At the lowest point of the recession, black youth unemployment hovered around 50 percent, while for every teen it was around 27 percent.

A study conducted by economists William Even of Miami University (Ohio) and David Macpherson of Trinity University (Texas) found that black youth unemployment wouldn’t be as bad as it was if the minimum wage remained the same.

“Employment losses for 16-to-24 year-old black males between 2007 and 2010 could have been nearly 50% lower had the federal and state minimum wages remained at the January 2007 level,” Even and Macpherson wrote.

Congress passed legislation to raise the national minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over the course of three phases between 2007 to 2009.

“The findings reveal that while 13,200 Black young adults lost their jobs as a direct result of the recession nearly 40 percent more, a total of 18,500, were fired because of the rise in the federal minimum wage,” Frank McCoy wrote. “A key reason is that many young Blacks hold tenuous, low-skilled positions in the nation’s eating and drinking businesses, such as fast food restaurants.”

As we’ve seen in recent years, raising the minimum wage in the fast good industry gives way to automation where robots and machines take your food order rather than people. And if employers can’t pay their employees, they’ll just shut down their restaurant altogether.

With all the evidence that’s mounting against the #Fightfor15 movement, is it time to finally ask if it’s more than just bad policy, is it racist as well?


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