On Friday, the Wall Street Journal had this article:
If Democrats succeed in retaking one or both houses of Congress next week, a top priority will be increasing the minimum wage for the first time since 1997. That raises a persistent question: Does lifting the minimum wage destroy so many jobs that it hurts more than it helps?
In 2002, voters here [Oregon] raised the state's minimum wage -- and mandated automatic annual increases to keep up with inflation. Oregon's 100,000 or so minimum-wage workers are paid at least $7.50 an hour, a rate that will increase to $7.80 in January, well above the federal $5.15 minimum....During the 2002 debate in Oregon, foes of a minimum-wage increase argued that it would chase away business and cripple an economy that traditionally had higher unemployment than the national average.
Oregon's experience suggests the most strident doomsayers were wrong. Private, nonfarm payrolls are up 8% over the past four years, nearly twice the national increase. Wages are up, too. Job growth is strong in industries employing many minimum-wage workers, such as restaurants and hotels. Oregon's estimated 5.4% unemployment rate for 2006, though higher than the national average, is down from 7.6% in 2002, when the state was emerging from a recession.