Not everyplace is doing as well as Seattle — or is as expensive to live in — so an immediate jump all the way to $15 everywhere may not compute. But consider:
The unemployment rate in Seattle is at a near-record low of 2.9 percent. Weird, since we were told over and over again by corporate lobbyists and right-wing politicians that raising the minimum wage to $15 would lead to job losses across the board.
It’s almost as if trickle-downers have been lying to us.
Despite the repeated threats we’ve heard from minimum wage-law opponents, this great news for Seattle workers and our economy is hardly unprecedented. The National Employment Law Project analyzed 70 years of historical data and found no correlation between raised minimum wages and employment levels.1 Economists know this, too. In 2014, more than 600 experts, including seven Nobel laureates, signed a letter stating that “the weight of evidence (is) now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.”2
Our state also raised the minimum wage recently (it went from $9.47 to $11 on Jan. 1, and will soon reach $13.50), and things are looking up. The recent jobs report from the Washington Employment Security Department showed that state unemployment is at a nine-year low.3
Still, don’t get your hopes up that anti-worker ideologues will change their tune. The wealthy and powerful desperately need the public to believe it’d be bad if the rest of us became more wealthy and powerful. The pervasive myth that paying workers a living wage will make jobs disappear has been a go-to right-wing argument since the first 25 cents/hour minimum wage was set in 1938.4
As @TBPInvictus wrote, “There is scant evidence to be had that Seattle’s higher minimum wage experiment has thus far been anything but a resounding success. Three years of arguing against it have proven futile although, sadly, the ideological naysayers are hard-wired to deny fact-based, data-driven evidence.”
President, SEIU 775
1. “Raise wages, kill jobs? Seven decades of historical data find no correlation between minimum wage increases and employment levels,” National Employment Law Project, May 5, 2016
2. “Economist Statement on the Federal Minimum Wage,” Economic Policy Institute, Jan. 14, 2014
3. “Unemployment rate hits nine-year low in Washington,” Employment Security Department, March 22, 2017
4. “F.D.R. makes the case for the minimum wage,” New York Times, March 7, 2014
Watch and share David’s video if you have a chance. Raising the minimum wage — apart from being the equitable and uplifting thing to do — would lower the cost to taxpayers of food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and health care assistance.