Shorter Slate: We Can’t Risk Raising the Minimum Wage to $15 Because Nobody Has Ever Done It Before!

What the headline says:

The research literature on whether minimum wage increases kill jobs is decidedly mixed. Some economists have found that hikes lead to small job losses among teens and in industries like fast food. Others have found that losses are nonexistent, or at least negligible. In the end, I tend to argue that even if you assume reasonable job losses, middle-class and poor families come out ahead in the bargain. Though some workers end up unemployed, enough get raises to make the tradeoff worthwhile.

But that assumes we don’t lift the pay floor too high, too fast. Minimum wage studies have typically looked at small increases, somewhere around 50 cents or a dollar. Seattle’s proposal would be far larger. It would also have virtually no U.S. precedent.

So, there’s no good evidence to show that increasing the minimum wage to $15 would kill jobs, but there’s no proof that it wouldn’t. So we better not try. Or something.

Because if there’s one thing that capitalism discourages, it’s taking risks.


  1. 1

    Theophrastus spews:

    If’n i’m not mistaken, Goldy is here suggesting that Seattle is in some-sort of capitalistic competition with its peers (survival of the municipally fittest). and it’s true the city issues ‘stock’ …er, rather bonds. (when can we consider the hostile takeover of Vancouver?)

  2. 2

    TerraceHusky spews:

    Doesn’t the City of Seatac provide at least some kind of test case? I realize it’s a MUCH smaller sampling (way smaller city, and only for airport-related industries… minus the airport itself). But the city is still standing, and the hotels and car parking facilities are still standing. I feel like we can at least rule out the possibility that Seattle’s economy will come to a grinding halt by looking to Seatac.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Well, you see, the argument is that Seattle’s numerous millionaires can’t afford to pay the people who wait on them enough to live in this city.

  4. 4

    headless lucy spews:

    re 1– “(survival of the municipally fittest)” — Sounds a little too much like evolution to me. Praise Jesus!!

  5. 5

    djw spews:

    It’s a not entirely illegitimate worry, but I obviously most of the actual proposals for getting to 15, including the Mayor’s, bend over backwards to take this into account.