Letter: Minimum wage increases don't lead to higher unemployment

January 21, 2014 

A recent Tri-City Herald editorial complained of the loss of jobs because of a 13 cent increase to $9.32 an hour in the Washington minimum wage. The editorial failed to address whether this is a decent wage necessary for the health of any working family. In 1968, the minimum wage was at its high point at $10.68 in today's dollars. In 2013, the poverty-level wage for a single full-time worker with one child was $8.11. In an economy of stagnating wages, the Washington minimum wage, unlike the federal minimum wage, is above, by one measure, the poverty level. If the minimum wage tracked with the changing incomes of the top 1 percent, it would be at $22.62.

The editorial assertion of fewer jobs is unsubstantiated. Estimates published in the 2010 Review of Economics and Statistics suggests that the effect of a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage employment in the restaurant and retail industries is statistically indistinguishable from zero.

In this post-recession economy, the median household income continues to drop (adjusted for inflation). Workers entering the job market are not just the young. In reality, the low-wage work force has become older and more educated.

MICKEY BEARY, Richland

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