Unfortunately, neither laudable intentions nor widespread support can alter one simple fact: although minimum wage laws can set wages, they cannot guarantee jobs. In reality, minimum wage laws place additional obstacles in the path of the most unskilled workers who are struggling to reach the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.So much, so straightforward: Minimum wage laws cause unemployment.
But here's an interesting thing. While liberals these days support minimum wage laws despite the fact they cause unemployment, Marginal Revolution points out that at the turn of last century 'progressives' supported them for precisely the opposite reason: because they do. These progressives wanted their women 'kept where they belong' -- at home -- and the unemployment caused by minimum wage laws was one tool to achieve that.
Unlike today's progressives, the originals understood that minimum wages for women would put women out of work - that was the point and the more unemployment of women the better![Hat tip Stephen Hicks once again]
Much more on the secret history of the minimum wage in Tim Leonard's paper, Protecting Family and Race: The Progressive Case for Regulating Women's Work.