But there would be a beneficial ripple effect on urban youth in a couple of ways: First, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has found that hiking minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would raise income levels for families living below the poverty line by 2.8 percent and reduce thenumber of people living in poverty by as much as 900,000.
Second — and this is most important for young Black males — a higher wage represents a incentive to obtain and retain gainful employment, which leads to more advanced job skills, leading to even higher hourly wages and ultimately a reduction in crime because there are fewer youth out there with idle time or what social scientists call “disconnected.” It’s been the conservative line of thinking that raising the minimum wage would only raise unemployment because businesses can’t afford it and would have to shut down or offer fewer jobs.
But the CBO’s research clearly finds that the gains outweigh the risks.
The minimum wage has consistently raised since the 1930s, and it has never been the job killer the right wing swears that it will be. On the contrary, sending manufacturing jobs to other countries is what has gutted U.S. employment. If familes could be taken out of poverty and have more of their incomes to spend on their sons and daughters and if young boys were able to earn a wage that could keep them out of the streets — away from gangs, drug dealing, and hustling — then that would equal a net gain and something that Republicans seem to have yet again overlooked. This summer, as in many summers, cities are anticipating waves of crime and gun violence.
Caught in the center of it all will likely, and unfortunately, be young Black males who we can’t seem to find a way to save from gunfire.
But if those same kids were occupied by something other than the streets — perhaps putting money in their pockets while doing it — they would probably be less inclined to get caught up and more likely to man up.