The upcoming five-year anniversary of Seattle City Council’s unanimous vote to pass the nation’s first citywide $15-an-hour law on June 2nd, 2014 offers a perfect opportunity to look back on the results of this groundbreaking law.
At this point enough time has passed that the $15/hour minimum wage can be declared an unambiguous success: the city has more jobs at higher wage; there are more restaurants than ever before; unemployment is remarkably low; and there has been no sign whatsoever of the negative impacts which many business lobby groups, credentialed economists, editorial boards and pundits offered when the law was initially passed.
Some items to consider:
- The Seattle Times counted 362 new restaurants openings in Seattle in 2018, vs 71 closures. In 2017 they counted 290 openings and 85 closures. That’s a net 496 new restaurants in Seattle in 2 years.
- In fact, restaurants in Seattle have increasingly been complaining about a lack of workers… caused in part by competition for labor from too many other restaurants!
- A highly-regarded study by Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts —the largest of its kind — looked at 137 minimum wage increases, including Seattle’s, and found zero impact on jobs.
- Michael Reich of U.C. Berkeley, one of the top researchers in this area, looked at six recent minimum wage increases (including Seattle) and found the increase in minimum wage led to significant pay increases for workers, and no employment reductions.
- Even the latest of the biased minimum wage studies from Jacob Vigdor have not been able to find job losses or reductions in income, despite their methodological flaws. (For example, his research discards data from multi-location businesses which operate both inside and outside the city of Seattle — that is, every large chain.)
- Studies have found that prices have not increased at grocery stores since the $15 minimum wage either.
- Anecdotally, there is evidence that wages are up in the area surrounding Seattle too — rather than fleeing the city limits of Seattle because of high wages, companies are bringing those high wages over the city limits themselves as they’re forced to compete for workers.
- With wages up, prices steady, and a strong local economy, the biggest complaint from Seattle businesses is that profit rates are down. Which is not too bad an outcome for anyone else — especially given the direction of corporate profit rates lately.
We are of course happy to connect you with workers who can speak to the positive impact of the $15 wage law on their lives — email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an interview.