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Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 29, 2013 at 7:02 PM

The consequences of raising the minimum wage

Column needs more data

Fast food workers marched in Seattle on May 30 to protest low wages. A push for raising the minimum wage has risen among fast-food workers, as well as in the SeaTac area for airport employees. [Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times.]

Fast food workers marched in Seattle on May 30 to protest low wages. A push for raising the minimum wage has risen among fast-food workers, as well as in the SeaTac area for airport employees. [Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times.]

Bruce Ramsey recently wrote about the economic consequences of raising the minimum wage. ["Column: What are the costs of raising the minimum wage?", Opinion, Aug. 28.]

Who does he talk to about the consequences of raising the minimum wage? Business managers. They are, of course, opposed — it looks like a cost to each of their individual businesses.

Economists call that the fallacy of composition. What is bad for one is not necessarily bad for everyone. Does he talk to any workers at those establishments? If he did, he didn’t report the conversation.

Ramsey might want to look at some more studies. He might want to look at a survey of the economic literature by John A. Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, titled “Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment,” published in February 2013.

Or he might want to look at the results of an academic research study into wages and employment done by Dube, Lester and Reich, published in November 2010, titled “Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Estimates Using Contiguous Counties.”

Ramsey concludes that an increase in the minimum wage “appeals to people and would help some of them, but it would have consequences. Measurable consequences.”

In other words, a numerate, quantifiable negative outcome. OK, let’s see the numbers.

Bob Ackerman, Kirkland

Comments | More in Economy, Politics, Seattle | Topics: business, economy, labor

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