So the minimum wage debate. Obviously, this is a very heated political debate. The opinions are strong on both sides of this discussion and that includes economists as well. You can find a number of economists that think, "This is the answer to income inequality" and those that think it will worsen the situation. I think the truth is, from an investment perspective, it actually doesn't mean that much. And the reason is there's only a very small percentage of the U.S. workforce — we're talking about less than a couple of percent — that actually get paid the minimum wage.
There is a broader issue, I think, that is very important for investors, which is the question about income growth. If you look at a broad array of individuals, except for the very top of the income distribution, one of the things which has been holding the economy back over the last several years is that income growth has been very slow.
So I think the question about "Will income growth accelerate?" is critical for 2014. It's critical for the economy, it's important for inflation, it's important for consumer stocks, for retailers; but I don't think that whether the minimum wage is raised or not raised is going to significantly influence the broader aggregate. In other words, if the economy gets stronger and there is more demand for workers, we'll see some acceleration of wages. If that's not the case, a change in the minimum wage is not likely to move the needle very much.
Related by Topic: Economic Outlook
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