2019 saw the implementation in 20 states and 24 counties and cities of new laws raising the minimum wage.
THANKS TO LEGISLATIVE efforts, ballot measures and adjustments for inflation, workers in 20 states will see an increase in their minimum wage in 2019.
These minimum wage increases, which range from a $0.05 inflation adjustment to a $2 per hour increase, will impact 5.2 million workers and, for those who work year-round, it will raise their annual pay between $90 and $1,300, according to a recent Economic Policy Institute report. On Jan. 1, 2019, 24 cities and counties will also raise their minimum wages.
Though the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009, there has been a growing movement across the nation to raise this number at both the state and local levels.
In 29 states, the minimum wage now surpasses the federal level, and a handful of state have pledged to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next few years.
Conservatives tend to oppose raising the minimum wages ostensibly because it will result in job loss and thus hurt the very people it is supposed to help, though I suspect that the real reason is because it cuts into corporate profits and thus reduces their stock dividends and values or that they are ideologically opposed to any measure that restricts the freedom of businesses to treat their workers as they wish.
Following the decision by the city of Seattle in 2017 to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, conservatives rushed to publicize a study done at the University of Washington that seemed to show just such a job loss. But the claim that it cost jobs was based on a single flawed initial study that had not been peer reviewed and was contradicted by other data and more rigorously done studies.
Much of the hand-wringing was based upon a deeply flawed University of Washington study. As we noted in 2017, the study’s fatal flaw was that its analysis excluded large multistate businesses with more than one location. When thinking about the impact of raising minimum wages, one can’t simply omit most of the biggest minimum-wage employers in the region, such as McDonald’s and other fast-food chains, or Wal-Mart and other major retailers. These are the very employers that were the main target of the minimum-wage law; indeed, the law established an even higher minimum wage of $15.45 an hour for companies with 500 or more employees.
But we can’t emphasize enough just how wrong many of the initial analyses of the wage increase have been. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force. If your ideology includes the belief that all government attempts at raising living standards are doomed, then of course you are going to be against mandated minimum wages. The problem occurs when these folks are confronted by facts that are at odds with their belief systems. The options are to either rethink your ideology or alternatively ignore the data. Most participants seem to have done the latter. Kudos to the University of Washington team for at least trying to incorporate the facts into their latest research.
The authors of that original flawed study have released a revised study that recanted many of their initial conclusions.
But as is often the case, people who oppose the rise in minimum wages seized upon and publicized the original flawed study and ignored the recantations.