North Dakota could have a new slogan: The land where minimum wage doesn’t matter anymore.
Wages have risen there so much that today the Drudge Report offers a story about a Wal-Mart luring workers with $17 an hour starting pay. That’s more than double North Dakota’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune story is a simple tale of economic growth driving the demand for labor. As employers find themselves with more resources and in more competition to find employees, wages for workers rise. This has cascading effects: population growth, greater demand for services, and more resources to pay for those services.
It’s the American story, really. At least it used to be. It’s not just a story of new demands for natural resources or new technology available to extract them, but of human ingenuity set free to flourish. Individual people--free to try harder, to work harder, to innovate--are the reason North Dakota’s economy is booming.
Collectively--through government--the people together provide some basic infrastructure like roads and courts. Yet government does not create economic growth. Policies like minimum wage are pathetic when considered beside the power of a flourishing free market to produce real prosperity.
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