Minimum wage

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A minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly wage that employers may legally pay to employees or workers. Equivalently, it is the lowest wage at which workers may sell their labor. Although minimum wage laws are in effect in a great many jurisdictions, there are differences of opinion about the benefits and drawbacks of a minimum wage. Supporters of the minimum wage say that it increases the standard of living of workers and reduces poverty.[1] Opponents say that if it is high enough to be effective, it increases unemployment, particularly among workers with very low productivity due to inexperience or handicap, thereby harming lesser skilled workers to the benefit of better skilled workers.[2]



Statutory minimum wages were first proposed as a way to control the proliferation of sweat shops in manufacturing industries. The sweat shops employed large numbers of women and young workers, paying them what were considered to be substandard wages. The sweatshop owners were thought to have unfair bargaining power over their workers, and a minimum wage was proposed as a means to make them pay "fairly." Over time, the focus changed to helping people, especially families, become more self sufficient. Today, minimum wage laws cover workers in most low-paid fields of employment.[3]

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