MORE MINIMUM WAGE FUN. From EPI's inimitable Jared Bernstein:
The federal minimum wage has been raised 19 times by Congress since its introduction in 1938. Eighteen states, covering about half of the national workforce, have minimum wages above that of the Federal level. And over 100 cities have living wages--a higher minimum that applies to workers on city contracts or at firms with local government subsidies.
In other words, more than any economic policy, we've had hundreds of "pseudo-experiments"--rare in economics--that allow us to test the impact of wage mandates on various outcomes. These experiments allow us to compare before and after, or, even better, compare nearby places that face similar economic conditions but have different minimum wage laws.
The question that has received the most scrutiny is whether increases in the minimum wage lead employers to lay workers off. You probably don't want to hear the results from me, but here's how Nobel laureate in economics, Robert Solow, put it: "The main thing about this research is that the evidence of job loss is weak. And the fact that the evidence is weak suggests that the impact on jobs is small."
A great example comes from the last Federal minimum wage increase, back in 1996-97. The usual suspects predicted massive job losses among those affected by the increase from $4.25 to the current level of $5.15. Instead, low-wage workers experienced the strongest job market in 30 years. Poverty fell to historic lows, particularly for the most disadvantaged workers, such as less-skilled minorities and single-mothers.
My God, has anyone informed the law of supply and demand!? Snark aside, Jared's overview of the subject is great. Read the whole thing.