Caption: A scientific survey of dogs, cats, and peacocks on Goat Rope Farm found no job loss after an increase in the minimum wage. Productivity, however, was another matter.
Around the country, momentum is building on campaigns to raise federal and state minimum wages, an issue that may even affect the outcome of elections in 2006 and 2008.
The success of efforts in 21 states and the District of Columbia shows that this is winnable. Every new state victory makes it easier for others and sends another message to Congress. In El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, we won the first round with a partial legislative victory in March and are gearing up for round two.
And this is a fight anyone can join: if your state has an ongoing campaign, you can find out more and join it by contacting the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign. If your state has already raised the minimum, you can help make noise at the federal level.
Aside from covering yourself in eternal glory, you can contribute to a struggle that could help millions of low income Americans and slow down the ongoing race to the bottom.
Meanwhile, here's some new ammunition for the struggle:
A frequent objection to raising the minimum wage is that this would have an adverse impact on small business. However, the Fiscal Policy Institute has completed a new study that "examined recent state-by-state trends for small businesses employing fewer than 50 workers and found that employment and payrolls in small businesses grew faster in the states with minimum wages about the federal level than in the remaining states where the $5.15 an hour federal minimum wage prevailed."
These findings reinforce results from an earlier study by the same group.
*the number of small businesses grew by 5.4 % in higher minimum wage states between 1998 and 2003 compared to 4.2 % in other states;
*small businesses had higher job growth in higher wage states (6.7% vs. 5.3%);
*total annual small business payrolls increased more in higher wage states (24.5% vs. 21.2%);
*average worker payrolls increased more in higher wage states (16.7% vs. 15.1%
*the number of small retail businesses increased in higher wage states while they declined in others (0.6% vs -0.3%); and
*between Jan. 1998 and Jan. 2006, total job growth and total retail job growth increased more in higher wage states (9.7% vs. 7.5% total and 10.2% vs. 3.7% retail).
Further, the study found that "the positive effects of the increased minimum wage on low-wage workers' income were not negated by reduced hours of work."
The results of the study suggest that:
faced with an increase in the minimum wage, small businesses may have benefited from some combination of higher productivity through improved worker retention and savings on recruitment and training. There may also be a "Henry Ford" effect at work: if you pay workers more, they can buy more, boosting the overall economy, especially among small retail businesses.
The experience of the campaign in West Virginia suggests that this kind of information carries weight with legislators and the media. Repeated studies show that the general public overwhelmingly supports an increase.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: HIGHER THAN THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE