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Lost in the coverage of the presidential and congressional elections is any mention that 35 states will also vote on 157 different statewide ballot proposals. Four will vote on proposals to raise their hourly minimum wage. Arizona, Colorado and Maine are pondering $12 an hour, while Washington may go for $13.50, which would be the highest anywhere.

It’s remarkable to think that people really believe the value of work can be decided by a vote rather than by basic economics. Wishing that something was true does not make it so. Voting is rather the same. People going to cast their ballots in those four states might persuade themselves that hiking the minimum wage will make life better, but a new study concludes 290,000 jobs will be destroyed if they do so.

The conservative American Action Forum concludes that Maine would be hardest hit. If voters approve a 60 percent increase in their minimum wage, statewide employment would fall by 4.2 percent, costing nearly 28,000 jobs. In Washington, the minimum wage would rise by 35 percent, killing an estimated 99,000 jobs. Hikes in Arizona and Colorado would cost 90,000 and 73,000 jobs, respectively.

Conservative opponents of higher minimum wages are called heartless, but it’s the virtue-signalling wage hikers who will actually be harming the poor by throwing them out of work. Just as a store will sell fewer cheap goods if it is forced to raise its prices, so will a worker without skills find it difficult to get a job if his or her employer can’t charge a low price.

“The low-wage, low-skill workers who labor advocates want to help are the very workers who bear this cost, as hundreds of thousands would be unable to maintain their current job or attain a new one,” the study says.

Liberals used to accept this, and in private, some of them still do. In 1987, a New York Times editorial noted that the right minimum wage is “$0.00” and added that “raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market.”

Labor unions are spending millions of dollars to campaign for the minimum wage hikes, usually because their members, who make far more, have contracts that guarantee them a multiple of the minimum wage. Almost $12 million has been raised for such efforts. Giving that money straight to low-income workers might be more helpful than a minimum wage hike.

More states should look at what South Dakota is doing. The state has a ballot proposal that would decrease the minimum wage by $1.00 for workers under age 18.

Time and again, we hear of people who had no prospects until their first job taught them the value of hard work. First jobs teach simple skills and good habits, such as the importance of showing up on time and having a good attitude. A lower youth minimum wage will encourage employers to place more young people on the first step of the career ladder.

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Minimum wage jobs are rarely long-term and almost never a lifetime situation. They are more commonly a temporary stint that leads to higher-paying work, or at least to a raise shortly after hire.

Unfortunately, polls show overwhelming support for the four minimum wage hikes. Regardless of their result, the proposals reiterate why the minimum wage should be a state and local issue.

While Hillary Clinton on Friday again called for an increase in the national minimum wage, 29 states have already raised their minimums above that level. Most of the remaining states have low costs of living where a hike would be disproportionately damaging. There’s no need for a federal hike when states are clearly capable of raising it on their own accord.

Voters should resist the siren song of minimum wage advocates and vote for economic reality on Election Day.

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