What Livable Wage Critics Got Wrong About Seattle's Move To $15/Hr.

Photographer: Mike Kane/Bloomberg

"An initial study said the increase to $15 would cost workers jobs and hours. That didn’t happen."

The dire warnings about minimum-wage increases keep proving to be wrong. So much so that in a new paper, the authors behind an earlier study predicting a negative impact have all but recanted their initial conclusions. However, the authors still seem perplexed about why they went awry in the first place.

Seattle, like some other thriving West Coast cities, a few years ago passed an ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour in a series of steps. The law was a partial response to rising income inequality and poverty in the city, which began its post-crisis economic boom well before the rest of the country.

The reaction was immediate, strident — and deeply wrong. The increase was an “economic death wish” that was going to tank the expansion and kill jobs, according to the sages at conservative think tanks. The warnings were as unambiguous as they were specific: Expect restaurants to close in significant numbers and unemployment to rise, all because of this foolish attempt to raise living standards.

Those ideologically opposed to mandated minimum-wage increases freaked out when a Seattle pizza parlor closed. Meanwhile, they ignored data showing Seattle-area employment in the restaurant industry on the rise. The critics even blamed Seattle’s minimum wage law for unemployment in suburbs not covered by Seattle’s laws. Despite their dire forecasts, not only were new restaurants not closing, they were in fact opening; employment in food services and drinking establishments has soared, as the chart below shows:

See chart and read full article at Bloomberg Opinion

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