Most of those making minimum wage are young, white, Southern, and female — in fact, fully 50 percent are white women. And many of those stuck in such jobs haven’t had the kind of practice or encouragement Carpenter was talking about.
My sister, who owns a clothing store in Los Angeles, says she can’t afford to pay minimum wage; she needs to pay much more. “I need smart, engaging, funny girls and am willing to pay a premium” to hire and keep them, she said. “There’s a lot to learn, and I can’t have new people in here every week.”
The real value of minimum-wage jobs isn’t only in leaving them behind, as Carpenter did, but in learning from them, for instance, not to become the kind of person who throws a fit over the late arrival of an entree.
The president seems to hope there’s some worth in the issue, too, in positioning his party in opposition to those who want to keep minimum-wage workers with no more purchasing power than they had 40 years ago.