Reporters and Redditors Agree: Seattle’s Minimum Wage Increase Is Great for Business

shield-1020318_1920In the spring of last year, we here at Civic Skunkworks spent a lot of time debunking stories about raising the minimum wage. At times it seemed like every reporter left in America last year was publishing a scary piece about business closures. I’m not complaining—it’s fun to debunk those pieces! But it’s interesting to look around and see that except for a pair of very loud holdouts—the Abbott and Costello of trickle down economics, you might say—most of those complaints have fallen away.

Today, Jed Graham at Investor’s Business Daily has published the latest story about minimum wage increases around the country. And Graham goes out of his way to point out that the doom and gloom that was predicted has not come to pass: in fact, the story is headlined “Has Minimum Wage Knifed Seattle Restaurant Jobs? New Data Say No.” Here’s the section on Seattle:

Data through the end of 2015 released in February suggested that Seattle restaurants had trouble adapting as employment at area food and drinking places grew at the slowest pace since 2009. The newly revised data show that restaurant employment actually has accelerated since the wage hike, rising 5.4% from a year ago in January.

The Seattle-area data cover the entire Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro, of which Seattle is just one-fourth of the population.

You really ought to go read the rest of the story, which travels around the country dismantling negative claims about the minimum wage. Honestly, I’m most happy about that last quoted sentence about the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro data, which clarifies a point that minimum-wage opponents often use to obfuscate the data. Such clear-headedness!

It’s not just reporters who have gotten the message about the minimum wage: regular folks on the internet aren’t suffering any fools, either. Three days ago, the Redditors at r/Seattle debunked a post from someone who wanted Seattleites to acknowledge the (nonexistent) “negative trend” in business since the wage went up. The user, appropriately named “folderol,” wrote:

So what is the excuse now Seattle? Who’s fault is it other than your own? And just for fun let’s not have the answer be “Republicans” this time.

Redditors immediately started picking apart folderol’s post, decrying it as “cherry picking with an ideological axe to grind,” and getting to the bottom of the issue as quickly as possible. Here’s user SovietJugernaut:

While unemployment did tick up to 5.3% in January, there are two things you should remember:

  • 5.3% is still well within the range that most economists consider “full employment.”
  • Paying too much attention to monthly ups and downs with things like the unemployment rate is a mistake that will often cause people to miss the longer term trends. Even in the very best of economies, some months will be better than others. Take the averages over several months to get a better idea of how the economy is doing overall.

Seattle’s economy is just fine.

Took the words right out of my mouth.

It’s amazing to see how the narrative has changed in just one short year. Reporters and Redditors all agree: Seattle’s minimum wage increase is working. Raising the minimum wage doesn’t kill jobs. It doesn’t kill business. In fact, it’s great for business.

Paul Constant

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