THE NEW MINIMUM WAGE CONSENSUS. Bloomberg's got a good article on the wide array of prominent economists coming around on the minimum wage. While the profession as a whole used to be basically unified in opposition, research emerging in the early '90s broke that consensus, and strong job growth after the Clinton increase further calmed their fears. As Arindrajit Dube, a labor economist at Berkeley, puts it, "[t]he debate now has become over how small the effect is as opposed to how large." That's forced a conversation over whether minor job losses are outweighed by broad income gains, and with the minimum wage at a 54-year low, the answer appears to be "yes." After all, argues Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, "We saw no ripple effect at all in the unemployment rate [after the 1997 increase], unemployment just continued to go down." The minimum wage increase, he said, "was totally swamped by other factors going on in the economy." And with all other things being mostly equal, you'd have to be a pretty determined scrooge to deny low-income workers a long-overdue wage hike.
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