Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Experiment is Working
Whenever there is talk about raising the minimum wage, conservatives predict apocalyptic doom. So when Seattle announced that it would start down the road of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, business leaders and conservatives predicted just that, saying that raising the minimum wage would lead to massive unemployment, that it it would hurt businesses and lead to price increases.
But three years later, Seattle’s still nascent experience with raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour shows that so far, a lot of these concerns are mostly bullshit.
Raising wage standards generally improves workers’ well-being, does not significantly undermine jobs, and might even make workers more productive and improve worker retention. Struggling low-wage workers are “always trying to look for better opportunities,” Allegretto notes, and there’s strong evidence that by lifting base wages, “businesses will have a little bit less turnover.”
The results of studies on the minimum wage have been mostly positive, yet the release of a University of Washington study that brought minimum wage opponents out of the woodwork, made headlines but was highly flawed:
The study also finds that the minimum wage caused large employment and hours gains in higher-wage jobs, which suggests that its “methodology fails to account properly for the booming Seattle labor market during the period studied.” It’s not entirely clear why the University of Washington team gets such a weird result — since their data isn’t public, we can’t check it — but it’s worth noting at least two important issues with their study...
That doesn’t mean that nobody in Seattle will ever lose a job, of course, or that the University of Washington team’s research doesn’t merit further exploration. But it does mean that the Seattle minimum wage increase, like every minimum wage increase in American history, has lifted the wages of low-wage workers and been perfectly fine for the economy. Until you start seeing low-income people in Seattle and around the country taking to the streets to demand lower minimum wages, don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.
What do you think about raising the minimum wage?