Paying the disabled like everyone else would reduce poverty, economists say
Ohio’s minimum wage is set to rise in January from $9.30 an hour to $10.10, but unless the law changes, people with disabilities will be left far behind.
They can currently earn the state “subminimum” wage of $4.25 an hour and can be paid significantly less than that NBC 4 reported. Now Ohio Reps. Brigid Kelly, D-Cincinnati, and Dontavius Jerrells, D-Columbus want increase it to where it will be for most other workers.
It would lift some people out of poverty, the majority of a panel of Ohio economists said earlier this week. But a majority were also unsure if it would be an overall aid to the state’s economy.
In a investigation conducted by Scioto Analysis, 12 of 18 economists said the measure would reduce poverty. Three disagreed and three were unsure or had no opinion.
Four economists agreed that paying people with disabilities the regular minimum wage would be good for the economy as a whole. Four disagreed and 10 were unsure or had no opinion.
In comments accompanying the survey, economist Albert Sumell of Youngstown State University said raising the minimum wage for people with disabilities is not a silver bullet, but it would be beneficial.
“The effect will be modest, but clearly some people with disabilities would benefit,” he said.
On the other hand, Kent State University economist Curtis Reynolds questioned whether sub-minimum wages were what prompted some employers to hire workers with disabilities in the first place.
“The challenge, of course, is whether individuals will always have higher-paying employment opportunities,” Reynolds wrote, saying he was unsure of the effect of higher wages. wages. “If so, then the higher minimum wage would reduce poverty. Otherwise, it will not reduce poverty. I don’t know what will happen to this population (which has not been studied as much in research on minimum wage policies).
Economists’ uncertainty about whether raising the minimum wage for people with disabilities would grow the economy was even more pronounced. Some of the uncertainty stemmed from the relatively low number of workers with disabilities and the low pay of minimum wage workers in any group.
But some of the economists have argued that there are other reasons for undertaking the increase.
“I think the main purpose of the minimum wage is to create equitable growth and dignity for workers,” wrote Jonathan Andreas of the University of Bluffton. “I would be in favor of more fairness and dignity even if it caused a little less growth, but research on minimum wages generally shows that this is not a problem, so it looks like a way to increase the growth. equity without hurting growth. I’ve never seen research on minimum wage for people with disabilities, so I haven’t seen enough information to know.
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