The N.C. Senate will likely vote Monday night to finalize a plan to raise the state’s minimum wage.

Senators already have endorsed the $1 wage increase with one of two required votes. The second vote would send the bill to the governor for his signature.

In the context of the minimum wage debate, I found interesting a passage from Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen’s A Patriot’s History of the United States (Sentinel, 2004). FDR’s Fair Labor Standards Act created the first federally mandated minimum wage more than 70 years ago.

With the legislators’ focus on raising the wages of employees, especially male family heads, little attention was directed at the natural business reaction, which was to trim workforces. More than any other single policy, the minimum wage law cemented unemployment levels that were nearly twice those of 1929, ensuring that many Americans who wanted jobs could not accept any wage offered by industry, but could only work for the approved government wage. After the law, in order to pay miinimum wage to a workforce that had previously consisted of ten employees, the employer now could only retain eight. The problem was that no set wage level creates wealth; it only reflects it.