Lift workers out of poverty and boost the economy with a $15 minimum wage for Seattle

THE FASTEST-GROWING JOBS PAY POVERTY WAGES 

Our economy is creating huge numbers of low-wage jobs: the most recent projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that eight of the ten fastest-growing jobs in the country pay less than $15 an hour.

“Hospital rooms, shopping floors, and fast-food counters: This is where the future of U.S. employment lives.” — Derek Thompson,  “The fastest-growing jobs of this decade, The Atlantic, 28 Jan 2014

INCOME  INEQUALITY IS A CRISIS.

In Seattle, more than half the total income is taken by the top 20% of households. (The bottom 20% collect less than 3% of the income.)2 Nationally, overall inequality has risen to levels last seen in 1928.

“Seattle’s bottom 58,000 households earn $13,000 a year…The top 5% have an average income of $423,000.” — Gene Balk, “Income inequality, how bad is Seattle?” Seattle Times, 17 Jan 2014

ECONOMIES GROW FROM  THE MIDDLE OUT.

When workers don’t have enough money to spend in their communities, it hurts business, and that hurts the economy. A $15 minimum wage would be a multi-billion dollar economic stimulus, because more people with more money means more customers for every business out there.

“Raising the earnings of all American workers would provide all businesses with more customers with more to spend.” — Nick Hanauer, “The capitalist’s case for a $15 minimum  wage,” Bloomberg, 19 Jun 2013

WE  KNOW THE SKY WON’T FALL.

The scare stories never change, but studies of real-world minimum wage increases show that when wages rise, jobs are created, prices barely budge, and businesses continue to thrive. We’ve seen this from San Francisco to Santa Fe to our own state border with Idaho. Despite the two- dollar-an-hour difference in state minimum wages, unemployment is lower in Washington than in Idaho, and Big Mac Value Meals have identical pre-tax prices.

“Some places in the U.S. already have real-life experience  with raising their minimum wage. Despite dire predictions that increases would cripple job growth and boost unemployment, this isn’t what happened.” — Joni Balter, “Where a Higher Minimum Wage Hasn’t Killed Jobs,” Bloomberg, 24 Feb 2014

$15/HOUR IS A MODEST PLACE TO START.

Research suggests it takes about $16/hour for a single adult to support themselves without assistance.6 And if wages had increased along with labor productivity over the past 50 years, minimum wage would be more than $20/hour.7 A $15 minimum wage is a modest step that would let workers afford the basics and contribute to the economy.

“When 95 percent of all economic gains are going to the top 1 percent, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is the right and decent thing to do.” — Robert Reich, “Raise the minimum  wage to $15.00/hour!” Feb 2014

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