Monday, July 11, 2016

Some Nuance on the $15 Minimum Wage

by Levi Russell

Adam Millsap at the Mercatus Center has a great short piece on the effect the $15 minimum wage would have on labor markets. Though Millsap criticizes the $15 minimum wage, he does it in a very different way than any I've seen.

He takes as a starting point Arindrajit Dube's conjecture that the minimum wage should be set at 50% of the median wage. It's important to note that Dube is actually a proponent of the $15 minimum wage but believes that it could create problems, especially if the ratio is above 80%.

Millsap uses data from Washington D.C. and Minneapolis, MN to calculate the (projected) ratio of the $15 minimum wage to half the median wage in each of these cities. Millsap shows that in Minneapolis, the $15 minimum wage is projected to be 86% of the median wage for people 16 years of age and older. In D.C., the ratio is only 53%.

So, given Dube's preference for a minimum wage set at 50% of the median wage and warning about a minimum wage over 80% of the median, the $15 minimum is potentially very problematic for cities like Minneapolis. I imagine that it would be far worse for smaller rural communities.

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