Is the Fight for $15 the Good Fight?

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Fast food workers rally for wage increase to 15 dollars an hour June 15 at NYU before a Fast Food Wage Board Hearing.
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The fight for $15 is catching on.

Fast food workers in New York claimed victory last week when a panel appointed by the governor agreed with them: their minimum wage should be increased to $15 an hour over the next few years. That recommendation must now be reviewed by a high commissioner, who's expected to approve it. But in Seattle and Los Angeles, city councils have already approved citywide increases to $15. And at the national level, a bill before Congress would more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 from $7.25.

This week, Money Talking raises a perennial economic question: do raises in the minimum wage help or harm the workers who fight for them? A raise might help the wage stagnation we're seeing in the national economy, but some economists suggest a raise too big could shrink the pool of jobs. In Los Angeles this week, some union leaders are asking to be exempt from the $15 city-wide minimum they fought for, in order to have more flexibility in asking for other benefits. And some critics suggest industry-specific raises, like the fast food one in New York, could lead to distortions in the economy.

Guest host Cardiff Garcia of the Financial Times asks Josh Barro from The New York Times and Reihan Salam from the National Review, who've both written on the topic, what the raises at local and national levels could mean for the workforce and other ways the government might improve conditions for workers.