Price Hikes Weren’t on the Menu After Seattle Passed $15 Minimum Wage Law

Brandon McKoyAllowing working men and women to afford basic day-to-day needs by ensuring an adequate minimum wage is common sense policy that most New Jerseyans support. Despite history showing the positive effects that increasing the minimum wage has on employment and economic activity, opponents continue to trot out the same old claims of doom and gloom – claims that, unsurprisingly, never pan out. The situation in Seattle is no different, where opponents of the city’s minimum wage increase asserted that prices would drastically increase to the point that the policy would do more harm than good. Once again, these opponents have been proven wrong.

A newly released study by the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance found “little or no evidence of price increases in Seattle relative to the surrounding area.” The research team surveyed 567 Seattle employers who paid their employees $15 an hour or less prior to the implementation of the minimum wage increase. Before the wage was raised, 62 percent of these employers said they would have to raise prices in order to accommodate the new wage floor. In the food service sector, 44 percent said they would raise prices and an additional 40 percent said they would raise prices and add a service charge on top. The study found that these promises never came to fruition.

Every time increasing the minimum wage is discussed, opponents warn with over the top hyperbole that doing so will lead to economic disaster, and every time they are proven wrong. It is past time that we acknowledge the opposition’s claims for what they are – scare tactics meant to prevent hard working people from being paid what they deserve. Adjusting and increasing the minimum wage is nothing new, and we have decades of experience with raising the minimum wage at local, state and national levels – experience that shows no correlation between increasing wages and significant price hikes, or widespread job loss.

For the sake of hard working New Jerseyans across the state, and the health of our economy, we need to increase the minimum wage to $15 as soon as possible. The benefits – a stronger workforce, happier and healthier employees, a more resilient economy – are too important to pass up.