I wrote a piece in December that was a bit bold for me in that I declared victory with regard to Seattle’s minimum wage experiment.
I closed that piece by writing:
The unemployment rate in the city of Seattle – the tip of the spear when it comes to minimum wage experiments – has now hit a new cycle low of 3.4%, as the city continues to thrive. I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point. The doomsayers were wrong. The sky has not fallen. The restaurant business, by all accounts, is booming (in fact, probably reaching a saturation point when one looks at eateries per capita). I think it’s safe to say we’ve got enough data – over almost two years now – to declare that Seattle has not suffered adverse consequences from its increases in the minimum wage, and has certainly not experienced the dire effects foretold by the anti-min wage crowd. [NOTE: The 3.4% rate mentioned has since been revised down to 3.3%.]
Well, the news has only gotten better since then, and I’d like to thank my friends @civicaction for spreading that good news with such a nice graphic (they were even kind enough to cite me).
Labor is not a widget. Until the minimum wage critics accept that fundamental fact, they run the risk of continued embarrassment which, of course, is okay by me. For example, noted labor market expert Tim Worstall told us in June 2014 – writing specifically about Seattle – that he would “expect to see reasonably large unemployment effects.” In the context of his article, it’s clear he meant to the upside, and not the downside. To the best of my knowledge, he’s not yet acknowledged being breathtakingly wrong. It does appear, though, that the critics have now abandoned Seattle and moved on, which is at least a tacit admission that they came up empty. Higher minimum wages can work, and it’s time to make that happen on a widespread basis.