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Hiking the minimum wage breaks the first rule of policies to help the poor

My new research update considers more discouraging news from Seattle in the context of editorial boards at the Greensboro News & Record and The News & Observer having opined strongly this week for raising this state’s minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage.

Put simply, I can’t imagine the editors truly wanting Seattle’s outcomes for poor North Carolinians here. Seattle, which hasn’t completed its incremental hiking of its minimum wage, is seeing the following results:

  • fewer jobs available to low-wage workers
  • fewer hours in the (remaining) low-wage jobs, more than offsetting (by a factor of three!) the wage increases
  • lesser total pay in the (remaining) low-wage jobs as a result — an average loss of $125 per week ($1,500 per year)

For this reason my update says that hiking the minimum wage breaks the first rule of policies to help the poor, which is:

Policies put forth to help the poor should actually work to help the poor.

Seattle’s higher minimum wages are also making it harder for the poor to access low-cost meals. Seattle’s minimum-wage hikes have made labor costs too expensive for a Subway franchise to afford to do the “five-dollar footlong” promotion.

I doubt the editors want to be caught singing “Few. Fewer dollars. Fewer dollars month-long” at the poorest, least skilled, and least employable North Carolinians, but their advocacy of hiking the minimum wage is essentially doing just that.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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