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Given the makeup of minimum-wage earners, this result means that young and ambitious, but inexperienced, workers are robbed of the opportunity to take the first steps in their careers and acquire the professional skills to start climbing.

In the face of staggeringly high unemployment among young workers, it’s especially callous to impose hurdles to entering the labor market and starting to accumulate income and experience.

The illusion that market forces can be bent to the will of politicians with the stroke of a pen is enticing, but false. If we truly want to help the most vulnerable, we need to look for well-targeted policies that help them get ahead, rather than repeat empty slogans.

Jonathan Meer is an assistant professor of economics at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Adam C. Smith is an assistant professor of economics at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, N.C.