Minimum Wage Karma in Seattle

@TBPInvictus here.

[File under: Petard, hoist on one’s own]

Earlier this month, AEI “scholar” Mark Perry was spotted using a dubious metric regarding minimum wage. Given the point his ideology was trying (apparently desperately) to prove, Perry proclaimed Seattle’s newly-hiked minimum wage a failure:

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 4.58.15 PM


As evidence to support his claim, Perry showed the following chart:


perry chart


I pointed out the fatal flaw in Perry’s work in Fact Versus Fiction on Seattle Minimum Wage.

Specifically, I made the obvious case that looking at the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue MSA (population 3.6MM) was utterly useless when the region that had changed its minimum wage law was Seattle city proper (population 660K), less than one-fifth the size. I was saddened to see that Perry undertook a deliberate, fraudulent misinformation campaign. This is not a case of reasonable people disagreeing; rather, it is a case of one person willfully, purposefully spreading false information.

Of course, it spread widely throughout the conservative blogosphere, including this piece of idiocy on Fox News. (@tamaraholder – I’m here for you, babe. Call me prior to going back on Varney).

Perry’s intellectual dishonesty did not go unnoticed.

Naturally, all data tell a story, when viewed over the course of time. But it’s clear Perry couldn’t resist the urge to trumpet any apparent bad news. Unfortunately for Professor Perry, when you live by short-term noisy data, you die by short-term noisy data. To wit:

The very same metric highlighted by the good professor above just produced the biggest one-month gain in the entire history of the series:


seatacbell by month


But wait, there’s more! Not only was the most recent print the largest single month gain in the history of the series, the past two months have seen 3,700 jobs added in the space and moved this metric to a new all-time high. Here’s Perry’s chart updated with the latest data:


sea-tac-belle level


I reached out to Professor Perry to see if he might be able to offer an explanation of some sort:


I’ll interrupt myself here to again remind folks that we shouldn’t really be looking at this series in the first place. However, misinformation should not be allowed to spread unchallenged (and, frankly, this was just too delicious to pass up).

I expect Professor Perry’s approach to change not one iota. I expect that he will highlight any and all bad numbers and/or any downward revisions. I expect that he will not be an honest broker of information or analysis. He has already shown a disinclination to await a reasonable amount of data as situations develop. We can look forward to seeing his future misinformation and intellectual dishonesty bounce its way around the conservative blogosphere, eventually finding its way on to Fox News. (As Barry often writes, this is a feature, not a bug.) Such is the life of a shill working for what was once a respectable think tank, but is now part of a greater disinformation machine. Perhaps it’s technically best to contextualize  AEI as part of a lobbying organization.

As for me, I’ll continue to watch as events unfold and stand by what I’ve been saying all along: “The simple fact of the matter is that the jury is still out – and will be for a while – on Seattle’s minimum wage experiment. We won’t know for a long time to come.”

Feel free to continue making obviously false, easily debunked statements, professor. It’s really quite entertaining.

Regardless, I will be there to document and debunk it all.

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. VennData commented on Aug 25

    Keep smacking them with the data.

    No “Well if minimum wages work then why not raise them to $100/hr” straw men arguments will win over anyone.

  2. Moe commented on Aug 25

    Thanks for your efforts here Invictus. Some of the scariest writing I have seen on the internet comes from this particular entity. This topic is rather mild compared to most you will find there. Again, as I stated previously – the fact that this man is teaching at a major university is frightening.

  3. willid3 commented on Aug 25

    seems par for the course. if the data doesnt look like we want it too, we will ignore it.

  4. Paul Mathis commented on Aug 25

    Keynes Vindicated Again

    Not that there was really any doubt, but it is obvious that raising the minimum wage increases the income level of the economy by redistributing income downward and thereby increasing consumption. As we all know, consumption drives economic growth and job creation so there is no real surprise that job growth is higher.

    Of course the anti-Keynesians will never give up their quest to reduce wages in order to clear the market of unemployment however counter-productive that quest is due to sticky wages. What this exercise unequivocally proves is just how ideological and dogmatic the anti-Keynesian “economists” are.

  5. James Cameron commented on Aug 25

    > I expect Professor Perry’s approach to change not one iota.

    I think the good professor is far more generous with compensation when it comes to the generous benefits he receives to say nothing of his permanent position at UofM. If his life circumstances suddenly changed overnight, and he had to work as a server in a restaurant, he would discover a treasure trove of data to support the need to make a livable wage. Hopefully, he moves to Seattle, where that point would be amplified.

  6. DeDude commented on Aug 25

    Thanks. Beautiful smack-down of a standard right wing hack job. They search among hundreds of borderline relevant metrics/parameters, cherry-picking their starting and ending points until they find one that can “prove” their ideologically defined ideas (yes indeed a feature not a bug). Rather than just arguing with their cherry-picking of specific borderline relevant parameters, waiting a few months and hanging them in their own rope (parameter) has a beauty of its own. I love it.

    A similar thing is going on with climate change denierism. They currently claim that a two-year “pause” in one particular parameter is proving the breaking of its 30 year+ trend. The link below has a beautiful take down (done in the comments section by Kevin O’Neill) of climate change deniers. It is long, but if you enjoy fact-based take downs of right wing clown jobs; its worth the time.

Read this next.

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