November 29, 2006

APOCALYPSE DELAYED (and a brief metaphorical footnote)

Caption: Seamus McGoogle, defender of the toiling masses, continues his tireless efforts to raise the minimum wage.

More than half the states have gotten tired of waiting for the federal government to raise the minimum wage (the count is 29, according to the Economic Policy Institute).

Opponents of an increase typically predict that taking this long overdue step will cause the moon to turn to blood, the dead to rise from their graves, and lead to shameless cohabitation between dogs and cats.

Whatever may be the case about the last possibility, the apocalypse seems to be deferred.

A new study by EPI finds a significant absence of cosmic destruction in the wake of state minimum wage increases.

Specifically, the study found little effect on employment or labor supply in states with higher minimums:

Between the last time the federal minimum wage was increased, in September 1997, and the end of 2005, 17 states and the District of Columbia raised their own minimum wages a grand total of 47 times. By the end of this period, the median minimum wage of these states was $1.40 (more than 25%) higher than the federal value. Examination of several demographic groups for which wages and employment are thought to be sensitive to minimum wages found some positive effect on wages and scant effect on either employment or labor supply. The same can be said for employees working in eating and drinking establishments.

To quote Dylan, "You will not die. It's not poison."

In the wake of the elections and thanks in part to the many state campaigns, there is a good chance of a long overdue federal increase. For more on this with the latest updates, check out the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign.

BRIEF METAPHORICAL FOOTNOTE OR ACTUALLY A REAL FOOTNOTE REGARDING METAPHORS. Several people contacted me by various channels yesterday regarding mixed metaphors. I would like to reply in some detail but must make hay while the iron is hot.


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