How Raising the Minimum Wage Could Affect Crime

May 5th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

The case to raise the minimum wage in America got a lot stronger this week, after the White House released a study linking increased wages to reduced crime.

Los Angeles Minimum Wage

Labor advocates have long argued that raising the minimum wage could combat poverty and even improve the economy, but the effect of a wage increase on crime rates hasn't been thoroughly explored before, Time reports.

Researchers at the Council of Economic Advisers say that raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 "would result in a 3 to 5 percent crime decrease (250,000 to 510,000 crimes) and a societal benefit of $8 to $17 billion dollars.”

The purpose of the study was to assess the "costs, benefits, and consequences of incarceration and other criminal justice policies" from an economic perspective, and researchers determined that some of the most effective ways to combat crime is through increased job opportunities, school enrichment activities, and a living wage.

"The impact of wages on crime is substantial; [a past study found] a 10 percent increase in wages for non-college educated men results in approximately a 10 to 20 percent reduction in crime rates," the study's authors wrote

It makes sense. Formerly incarcerated Americans faces economic hardships after they're released. The White House report found that there are more than 46,000 federal and state laws that restrict "employment, occupational licenses, and business licenses for people with criminal records," and so they're often left with low-wage jobs and limited resources.

The Atlantic reports:

"Around 70 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks. Additionally, there are more than 1,000 mandatory license exclusions for people with records of misdemeanors and nearly 3,000 exclusions for felony records, per the American Bar Association. The Council also determined that 'applicants with criminal records were 50 percent less likely to receive an interview request or job offer.'"

RELATED: A Slightly Higher Minimum Wage Could Save Taxpayers Billions