Why a $15 Minimum Wage Will Be a Disaster

Jordan Weissman doesn't expect Seattle's experiment to go well
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2014 1:22 PM CDT
Why a $15 Minimum Wage Will Be a Disaster
In this March 15, 2014, file photo people march during a rally to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Seattle.   (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo, File)

Seattle's plan to raise its minimum wage to $15 will be great for economists—the city will become a "gigantic laboratory for one of the most ambitious, and quite possibly misbegotten, labor market experiments in recent memory," observes Jordan Weissmann at Slate. But it probably won't be good for Seattle. While there's evidence both for and against raising the minimum wage, the evidence for it generally assumes that it won't rise too high or too fast. Seattle's plan would give it possibly the highest wage floor in the world.

"Any plan that makes hiring a worker more expensive than in France should be cause for concern," Weissman argues. Employers in such high-wage European countries have flocked to automation, replacing workers with digital checkout counters. Seattle's businesses could follow suit, if they don't just pack up and move to the far cheaper suburbs around the city. Still, Weissman is "oddly glad" Seattle's trying this. "Better that one city's job market crash than a whole country's." Click for Weissman's full column. (More Seattle stories.)

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