New minimum wage study disputes theory that increases harm workers
- While experts disagree on whether minimum wage increases ultimately help or harm low-wage earners, a new study may be moving the needle toward the former. A analysis of 137 minimum-wage increases that have occurred since 1979 shows that the end result may be good news for workers — or at least not bad news, The Washington Post reports.
- The researchers' paper concludes that, on average, jobs that pay below the new rate are eliminated, while jobs paying above the new minimum rate are added. In effect, the two changes cancel each other out, the Post says.
- One researcher who previously determined that Seattle's workers were harmed by its rate increase said that his and the new study may not necessarily contradict each other. It may be the case that large, rapid changes are the harmful ones, he told the Post.
While the country awaits more conclusive information, state and local governments are pushing ahead with minimum wage increases, with 37 going into effect this year alone. And as the federal government rolls back regulations on businesses, these jurisdictions are going further, adopting their own overtime salary thresholds, salary history bans and more.
Overall, however, wages remain relatively flat. Despite the current job seekers' market, surveys show that employers aren't yet confident enough in the economy to boost wages significantly. Instead, they're trying to attract candidates with culture, benefits and flexible work options, among other things.
- Washington Post The effects of 137 minimum wage hikes, in one chart