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The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 and the Fair Labor StandardsAct of 1938 broadened the number of workers covered by minimum wages, with negative consequences for black employment across a much wider range of industries. Good intentions motivate most Americans in their support for minimum wage laws, but for compassionate public policy, one should examine the laws’ effect. That’s seen by putting oneself in the place of an employer and asking, “If I must pay $7.25 an hour to no matter whom I hire, does it pay me to hire a worker who’s so unfortunate as to have skills that enable him to produce, say, only $4 worth of value an hour?” Most employers would view hiring such a worker as a losing economic proposition; therefore, a minimum wage law discriminates against low-skilled workers by reducing employment opportunity.
Being unemployed has significant negative social consequences, one of them noted in the 1960s by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who raised the alarm about the link between joblessness and the decline of the black family, saying that men without work become less attractive as marriage partners. Between 1890 and 1940, a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults. Today black marriage rates have fallen precipitously, where 72 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers.
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