minimum wage

The New York Post noted in an editorial today that we don’t have to wait to see how badly raising the minimum wage to $15/hour will hurt employment in Seattle: it’s already happening.  Seattle instituted the hike on steps; currently, minimum wages have been raised to $12-$13 an hour.  And, like clockwork, the unemployment rate in Seattle has climbed by one entire point. (H/T: @vbspurs)

The Post didn’t link to the AEI study that triggered the editorial, but I assume that it’s this one – and you really need to see the graphs in order to see just how bad this law is.  Essentially, prior to the hike Seattle city’s jobless rate was recovering from the last recession, to the point where it was almost back to pre-2008 levels.  Not anymore:

AEI-Seattle-jobless rate

Merely raising the minimum wage to $12 or $13/hour handily wiped out about three years’ worth of slow recovery in a single year. Imagine what will happen when wages get bumped up again in 2017?  Well… actually, you won’t have to imagine: you’ll simply have to wait.

You’re probably wondering at this point why minimum wage adherents persist in insisting that minimum wage hikes don’t cause unemployment, despite stories like this one.  I suspect that the root cause here lies in the stubborn refusal to accept that business owners typically do not make vast amounts of obscene profits, ripped entire from the bloody backs of the proletariat (a concept that should have been left back in the Nineteenth century, right next to phrenology and/or Lamarckian evolution).  The reality is, businesses – particularly small businesses – operate with considerably less margin. If you artificially raise wages, there is a point where a company will simply find it more viable to not employ as many people as they did before.

And activists can stamp their feet and pout as much as they want to on that subject, but it won’t actually change objective reality.  Higher minimum wages cause unemployment.  They also cause underemployment, which is in some ways even worse. It’s not psychologically healthy to make people constantly hustle just to make ends meet.

(Image via Shutterstock)

Moe Lane