Over the weekend, the Everett Herald ran a challenge to the prevailing myth that an increase in the minimum wage would lead to a stronger economy and a higher quality of life for the working class of both Washington State and the rest of the country by Patrick Connor of the National Federation of Independent Business. Connor states that “no public policy issue in America — ever — has more armor-plating against facts, studies and everyday economic observation than the minimum wage.”
Citing information provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as a study done by economists Joseph Sabia and Richard Burkhauser, Connor concludes that data gathered on minimum wage earners on a national level actually shows a class of predominantly young people who are not the primary wage earners of their families. This means that the national conversation being had about the minimum wage realistically targets teenagers who are working low-skill jobs, but will end up affecting their employers so much so that they could end up losing their entry level positions.
In Washington State specifically, Connor elaborates on how voters decided with Initiative 688 to link the minimum wage with rises in the federal Consumer Price Index, thereby hopefully allowing low-wage workers to be able to “keep up” with those making more money. The 1998 initiative was shown to be ineffective and detrimental four years later when economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway of Ohio University presented their findings to the Washington Legislature, stating that “…rather than a relatively cheap way to alleviate poverty, the law has cruelly and capriciously brought about job and income loss to workers and small entrepreneurs. “
Unfortunately, as Connor so accurately states, if you “oppose an increase…you are quickly branded a heartless cad, especially if you’re a Republican,” despite having the expert opinions of several economists as well as statistical facts on your side.