Studies look at what happened when cities raised minimum wage

The Seattle Times reports that “raising the minimum wage doesn’t have a drastic, negative impact on employment, according to university researchers who have studied pay hikes in other cities.

min wage impact on restaurants seattle times

“Ten years ago, San Francisco raised its minimum wage from $6.75 to $8.50 an hour, a 26 percent increase. Since then, it has gone up at regular intervals to its current $10.74 an hour, the highest big-city starting wage in the country. The city has slapped other mandates on businesses, including paid sick leave and a requirement to provide health-care coverage or pay into a pool for uninsured residents.

“What have the effects been on employment? Almost none, according to economists at the University of California, Berkeley, who have studied San Francisco, eight other cities that raised their minimum wages in the past decade, and 21 states with higher base pay than the federal minimum.

“Businesses absorbed the costs through lower turnover, small price increases at restaurants, which have a high concentration of low-wage workers, and higher worker productivity, the researchers found.”

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The world watches the US on labor abuse

The Hill reports that “in late February, the Department of Labor awarded $205,977 in back wages and liquidated damages to former student guestworkers at McDonald’s restaurants in Pennsylvania, and to the U.S. workers alongside them.

“The student guestworkers, from Argentina, Malaysia, and other countries, faced sub-minimum wage pay, shifts of up to 25 hours straight, unpaid overtime, and overpriced company housing where eight people were packed into a single basement room. When the workers raised complaints, their employer responded with threats of retaliation and deportation to intimidate them and hide the abuse.”

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Low-wage jobs unexpectedly a way of life for many

The Washington Post reports that “occupations that once helped elevate people from the minimum wage into the middle class have disappeared during the past three recessions dating to 1991. For years, many Americans followed a simple career path: Land an entry-level job. Accept a modest wage. Gain skills. Leave eventually for a better-paying job.” 

But “research shows that occupations that once helped elevate people from the minimum wage into the middle class have disappeared during the past three recessions dating to 1991.

“Last year, 17.4 million Americans between ages 25 and 64 earned less than $10.10 an hour, the minimum wage proposed by President Barack Obama (The current federal minimum is $7.25.) That’s equal to an income of nearly $19,000 for a full-time employee — less than half the median pay of a U.S. worker.”

Read more about these trends here.

Louisiana Workers Testify for a Higher Minimum Wage

Will testimonies of everyday Louisiana workers persuade legislature to raise minimum wage? Reporter Kortlynn Johnson interviews Erika Zucker, WJP Policy Advocate, to find out out how Together Louisiana prepares for the 2014 legislative proposal to raise minimum wage.