To see the pernicious effects of minimum wage laws and other big-government restrictions on free markets, look no further than the article by Kris Hudson in the Wall Street Journal on May 1st entitled "Labor Shortage Besets Home Builders." This article lays out the details of a severe labor shortage in the home construction area. The article focuses on Denver but applies across the country.
Why a labor shortage when so many people cannot find employment?
Easy answer: these jobs require skills -- skills that can only be learned on the job.
How does someone learn skills on the job? Traditionally, job skills were learned by some form of apprenticeship where an employee settles temporarily for a low wage or no wage at all in exchange for learning a skill that can lead to high wages and a successful future. That is now illegal in America. (It is not illegal in China).
The only folks that are legally permitted to learn a skill in the US are folks with money. Folks with money (or who can borrow it) can go to college or trade schools and learn a skill). It is illegal to trade hard work, the only currency the poor may possess, in exchange for skill development because of minimum wage laws (should be renamed the minimum skills laws, since such laws effectively make it illegal to have a job if you possess limited skills).
Who gets hurt? As usual, in the big-government world, the poor and lowly skilled are victimized by righteous rich folks who think poor people should not be legally permitted to learn a skill unless their employer also pays them a minimum wage and provides various other mandated employee rights.
Again, who is hurt? The folks at the bottom of the economic pile.
Read the article. It's all there.