Picture it. 1998. The national crazes are Titantic, collecting Beanie Babies and getting something called a “Lewinsky.” The residents of the great state of Washington were buffing their Doc Martins with their flannel shirts while standing in line to vote for a more robust minimum wage. This minimum wage would also get an annual adjustment for the cost of living.
“Don’t vote for this madness,” the Austrian-style economists warned, “Washingtonians will lose their jobs and will have no money left over to pay their monthly AOL bill. Restaurants and bars will go out of business.”
Now step out of your teal green Dodge Neon and fast-forward to 2014.
Washington state now has the highest minimum wage in the United States, it is indexed to the cost-of-living and $15 per hour is on the horizon. The Evergreen State’s economy must resemble that of Detroit or the deep South, right?
Nope! From Bloomberg:
In the 15 years (since Washington voters approved to raise and COLA minimum wage), the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32 — the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued at an average 0.8 percent annual pace, 0.3 percentage point above the national rate.
Okay, okay but you Ayn Rand lovers are probably thinking that the bars and restaurants have had to shutter their operations. Again – nope!
Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent.
What about poverty, you rain-soaked hippies? Surely, the poverty rate increased like the conservative Heritage Foundation said it would (don’t call us “Shirley” and Heritage discovered that the opposite is true). Again – triple nope:
Poverty (in Washington) has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years.
It’s hard to argue with the results we have here in Washington, though those who practice the religion of Ayn Rand (the L. Ron Hubbard of douchebags) will anyway. For the rest of America – follow Washington’s lead, raise the minimum wage and enjoy all the job growth. Look what happened in New Jersey:
New Jersey voters in November approved increasing the minimum wage by $1 an hour to $8.25, tying future increases to the consumer price index. In January, after the raise took effect, private employers added 8,320 jobs in New Jersey, according to ADP Research Institute. That was the fastest pace of job growth since December 2012.
70 percent of America’s economy is based on consumption ie. buying sh!t. More income means more buying and more buying means more jobs. It’s not socialism, it’s common sense economics. We should all literally party like it’s 1999.