Progressives often see the choice as: (a) A livable minimum wage (b) A lower minimum wage.
But that's a fantasy. The real choice is: (a) What the market will bear (b) Unemployment ($0/hour).
The choice isn't pulling people out of poverty or not, it's about what value an opportunity is worth to an employer, before they skip the job, automate, outsource, or just give up. Thus it doesn't matter what progressives WANT people to get paid, or what they call a "livable wage", it matters what the market will bear -- and that's not decided by dickheads in D.C. or by layabouts in their parents basement or on the picket line.
Social benefits = Corporate Subsidy
The truly uninformed will argue that Walmart having employees on welfare is corporate subsidies, that the public is subsidizing Walmart's employees.
But if there was no Walmart, what would happen?
They wouldn’t be magically paid more. Odds are, most of those people wouldn't be working at all: paying no taxes, and getting even MORE in government social benefits and being a burden on society.
Thus, government isn't subsidizing Walmart, Walmart is helping to reduce the burden on government social benefits, and progressives are too clueless to get it.
Raise the cost of labor to Walmart and they need to offset those costs, keep raising them, and they offset those jobs — and those newly unemployed people take a lot more in government benefits than they did as a Walmart employee.
So there’s no winning this one. There's a little elasticity where you can reduce the profits of a company from say 8% margins to 4% by forcing them to raise their labor costs (in the short term). But that 4% came out of what? Growth, security, margin.... that means they're that much closer to putting everyone into the unemployment line, which will cost a lot more than the social programs we choose to pay (and have nothing to do with the going rate of labor).
The stupid are stubborn
The determined to stay stupid will argue, “But Costco pays more than Walmart!?!?”.
They do, but they have fewer employees per dollar sold (different volumes in different markets).
If you replaced all Walmart’s with Costo’s (ignoring that’s implausible, or the loss of choice/selection), you’d end up with far fewer people employed per store (and fewer stores) — but the few with jobs would be better off. Can you say, The Broken Window Fallacy? In liberal math, un-employing thousands to help dozens is a net win. In the real world, you hurt more people than you helped.
Minimum wage is the delusion that bureaucrats and politicos know more about what's fair than the laborer and the employer, and that there's a magic round number that fair for everyone, everywhere, at the same time. We know that it hurts employment, increases automation and offshoring, and hurts the people it's supposed to help. Either these consequences are unintentional, or the politicians want to make the problem worse while pretending to help, so they have something to campaign on.