America $15 minimum wage fact of the day

In West Virginia, the median hourly wage is just $14.79; in Arkansas, it’s $14.48; and in Mississippi, it’s a depressingly low $14.22.

That is from an excellent column by Catherine Rampell, do read the whole thing.


"Depressingly low $14.22"

I imagine that's a few standard deviations above the world's mean wage even after factoring in cost of living. I would say she chose the wrong adverb there...

Its depressing for Cowen because as a card carrying Globalist he was hoping that after years of work that the wages would have been depressed even more to world standards. I am guessing he was hoping for $5 a day or even lower.

After all isn't that what globalism is, a world wide search for someone somewhere who can be paid even lower then the people who are working now. Except of course management and investors who deserve every billion they get

The best TC-approved ethnic food is made by people who don't get paid at all the first year, after being smuggled in, and who are collected in a van in the morning from the apartment where they sleep four to a room.

They cook as if their lives depended on it.

What a spectacularly bad context you have chosen to make this argument. We are here considering differences in wages between states. How can such differences exist, in your view? There are completely open borders between states, with no barriers to trade or migration. And yet wages are not equal everywhere.

The wage difference between states is minor compared to the wage difference between countries, especially for workers, but globalism is working hard to change that.

The median income in Connecticut is 87% higher than Mississippi. That's not a small difference.

Also, the states are more similar to each other than nations tend to be, in ways potentially relevant to wages: governance, level of regulation, education levels, culture, etc.

States more similar to one another than to other countries? Huh? 87% just about approximates the degree of dissimilarity between Mississippi and Connecticut, though I for one don't find the difference a negative.

I've never been there, but I imagine Vermont, for instance, to be more similar to very heaven than to my native state.

Even then - what are the average wages in Gulfport or Biloxi vs Clarksville or Cleveland? I'm guessing an 87% difference is about right.



"no barriers to trade or migration"

No institutional barriers. But there are many social and personal barriers that make this more difficult than theory would predict. Enormously more so in the EU.

You present this as if it's an argument against dan1111's larger point, when it only supports his argument even more. If social and personal barriers make human movement more costly across U.S. state borders, than it's going to make it even more costly across national borders. (Apologies if you were saying this in support of dan1111's larger argument.)


Not just differences between states. Adjacent towns within the same states, e.g., suburbs vs. city, have huge income differences, all with completely open borders.

The most prosperous urban areas do make a barrier by blocking housing construction.

What does someone like Tyler actually have to say about this topic?
Why does he want an America where wages are low and competition is maximized without regard for its effect upon the average person?

Why does Emanuel Noriega insist upon catalyzing the automation of labor? Why does he want an America where low productivity people aren't allowed to work?

It's pretty obvious why.

TC wants these things because he is paid indirectly by the Koch brothers to say such things. He and the "brothers" stand in a line and Meghan McArdle, in a manner contrived to please from the view above, imitates a robot, and mechanically licks cocaine from around the glans of their penises. The brothers Koch observe carefully for the dilation of TC's neck veins and for leprechaun like fidgeting behaviors. When he is sufficiently edged for their pleasure they command MM to cease her servicing of just prior to his climax.

The difference between how funny you are and how funny you think you are is much, much bigger than the wage differences between rich suburbs in the north and poor cities in the south.

I'll let you decide if that is an argument for or against immigration, education and introspection.

Well, I laughed out loud (lol), while reading this. This almost never happens. So, yes, extremely funny in my opinion.

Standing between the linen curtains, the moon’s pale shade of sunlight cast a dim glow on the Great Lake, and above, the silhouettes of Hullets

The GDP/capita of France is $36,855 so if you worked hard, 2592 hours in a year, 52 hours for 50 weeks, and were paid the average wage in Mississippi, $14.22, you would earn the average French wage.

GDP/capita and wages are not the same, or really comparable. Think retirees, children, capital income, etc.

In the 1st place, it's the MEDIAN, NOT the average wage. 2nd point - IF you can get a full time job in any of those states, you will most likely NOT have the opportunity to take overtime. And for the 50% who are below median, they are ipso facto not making the median wage. It they manage then to find a second job, it will likely pay even less. You are assuming a lot of ifs to promote a lopsided view of potential earnings.
As for using the cost-of-living to generate poverty stats, fine idea. I notice that the southern tier, a region of heavy poverty on the traditional scale, and including 2 of 3 states mentioned in the opening paragraphs, is still in the bottom 15 states, with the exception of West Virginia and Alabama, but including Texas and NM. What is interesting are the states that the COL method adds to the bottom.

The median income of France and Mississippi actually look pretty similar. Both are around 70-75% of the U.S. median income, depending on the statistic used.

I presume this measure of median income is just of pay and excludes transfer payments-- like healthcare and fringe benefits.

You get what you pay for. Firms have moved their plants south for cheap labor, but are now finding out what cheap labor means when they try to find employees that can handle the high tech equipment in the plants. If you want your hourly wage employee to have read anything put a football play book in high school do not move your manufacturing facility to the deep south.

"If you want your hourly wage employee to have read anything put a football play book in high school do not move your manufacturing facility to the deep south."

The last refuge of acceptable bigotry.

@Thomas +1.

Of course it's possible that the available labor pool in the south is worse than in the north. But I would like to see some evidence of that. The anecdote isn't convincing: moving a factory to the south involves hiring and training a new workforce, something these companies wouldn't be doing if they stayed in the north.

"The last refuge of acceptable bigotry."

The amusing thing is that when confronted about obvious Southern bigotry, people almost always deny they are bigots.

So do bigots of any other stripe. Very very few people call out "heck yeah I'm a bigot!". Even White Nationalists will say they are just "supporting their race", they aren't bigots.

"So do bigots of any other stripe. "

Fair point. Spencer is just a typical bigot, not a particularly unique one.

GDP/capita and hourly wages are not the same, or really comparable. Think salaried employees, capital income, etc.

For a real apples to apples comparison, you want to look at GDP/capita of Alabama.

Familiarize yourself with what a standard deviation is.

In the event of Buckeye Street, pretend like Flannery O'Connor never ate Falafels.

That's $29,600 a year pre-tax. Global median household income is $9,700.

Of course, cost of living is more expensive in Mississippi. The median annual rent in Gulfport, MS is $9,800.

It's about double the world's average per capita PPP GDP. The average is much higher than the median. I don't know the standard deviation.

Wait, this means things must be looking up for three state most Americans equate with rampant poverty. Nothing depressing about that, right?

Besides, think how competitive America would become if the average median hourly wage in Fairfax was $15 an hour - why, no one would need to move to Jefferson County WV to enjoy such a princely sum as their hourly median wage.

Might be a bit tricky funding that FCPS 2.8 billion dollar budget, though.

Which makes one wonder just how much money all the localities in those three states spend on their school systems.

But once you adjust for cost of living, those 3 states don't actually have high poverty rates. Using the census bureau's 'supplemental poverty measure' which accounts for living costs, Mississippi's poverty rate matches the national average, while West Virginia and Alabama are below average (and FAR below the state with nation's highest poverty rate -- namely, California):

I went from the Wikipedia article to the US Census bureau source.

Census used the CPI to deflate the income data rather than the BEA's Implicit Regional Price Deflators . But the BLS takes a strong position that the CPI should not be used to compare real income between different states or metro regions.The regional CPI that BLS publishes should only
be used to show changed in the cost of living through time for a specific location.

That is why BEA has developed the regional price deflator so you can get fairly accurate cost of living comparison across states and/or metro regions that the CPI does not even attempt to do.

Well, the BEA's 'Regional Price Parities' chart for 2015:

Shows the same pattern -- Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia are among the lowest cost states, while California is near the top, and the differences aren't trivial. California is at 113 and Mississippi is at 86, making California 31% more expensive.

And this is why I have argued for paying people to leave California. Just think how much better they'd do in Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia!

The State of California should give everyone leaving a grub stake and tell 'em to never come back. It's a win-win-win!

The poor and middle class have been fleeing California since at least 2000. Its population of Americans shrinks every year

Maybe we could increase the bargaining power of already marginal workers with menial job skills by closing the borders as well.

Why? Why not, for example, improve the 'bargaining power' of marginal small businesses by restricting large businesses like Walmart or Amazon?

What is the problem you are trying to solve here? Do you feel bad that a hard working person who has marginal skills, but won't command a good wage? The most efficient way to address that problem is to either improve his skills (if possible) or supplement his wage.

In terms of emotional pain someone who has run a small business for years that is now being forced out because they cannot compete with more efficient businesses probably experiences more loss than someone whose simply a proud menial worker and commands a menial paycheck. They probably already have a well developed skill set and would not be comforted by learning that an immigration policy has slightly increased the lowest wage rate of the most menial labor.

If we're going to boost one person's wages by drastic immigration actions (and fact it, even if you reduced immigration to 0 and started doing massive deportations you probably are *not* going to even see a 30% increase in the lowest skilled wages anything less and you're talking about giving someone a few more quarters per hour of work), it sounds like you're lining yourself up to start making a lot of market distortions in the name of economic emotional justice. You don't strike me as someone who really cares so what exactly are you trying to solve here?

He's not trying to solve anything other than justifying having no more people come into this country from other countries. Because tribes.

Tribes? Tribes are for small communities of maybe 100 people. The US is a nation with over a quarter billion plus people. There is no US 'tribe', any attempt to sell such is about as good a product as Trump University's degrees were.

For this cat it's white tribe, black tribe, Muslim tribe, Hispanic tribe, Asian tribe, etc. Something something diversity empires unstable something something.

Functional tribes qua tribes work up into the lower thousands, but as you get beyond the number of people who can vaguely recognize each other on sight its does start to break down.

BTW speaking of tribes and Trump's immigration proposal which favors English speaking immigrants. Countries with the most English speakers excluding the US:

•India: 125M English Speakers. ...
•Pakistan : 94,321,604 English Speakers. ...
•The Philippines: 90M English Speakers. ...
•Nigeria: 79M English Speakers. ...
•The United Kingdom: 59.6M English Speakers.

The alt-right has perhaps misjudged the 'tribal' consequences of their preferred policies.

Immigrants from India, Pakistan, and the Philippines have the lowest poverty rates among immigrant groups. Immigrants from Mexico, Central America, the Middle East, and Africa have the highest poverty rates.

Yes school choice, vouchers, scholarships. ED, De Edge, Right Thiago???????????

All those people don't speak English the "right way" (or with the right accent), so in practice, the points system plus consular interviews will take care of filtering most of them out. I don't think Stephen Miller has any intention of skewing the US immigrant population toward the former subject peoples of the British Empire.

Ironically a 'points system' that would let in 500K Pakistani immigrants per year while excluding 500K Latinos would IMO produce more cultural stress in the US. Culture wise a non-English speaking Mexican who has long standing family in the US is probably less of a culture shock for both the immigrant and the existing citizens than a Pakistani immigrant who happens to have a good command of English as a second language.

Boonton shoots... Why is he kicking the ball into his own net? And why is he celebrating like an idiot?

Every once in a long while, a beam of light illuminates The Darkness at the Amazon Post.

What's the point of calling it the Amazon Post?

That's what Trump calls it, so Rich is repeating. See, e.g.,

That said, I have no idea why Trump thinks it is derisive to link the Post to an immensely popular and successful company.

I suggest we introduce the acronym IHNIWT for "I have no idea why Trump".

It will save us all a lot of time.

LOL, +1

As always, it is even worse that it appears. In what should be an eye opener to anyone who threw "derangement syndrome" around a little to readily, an authentic example. Government by DS.

@dan1111 wrote IHNIWT, but I see IHNITWIT (I Have NIT WIT)

Trump has an obsession to unravel Obama's policies? I don't see it exactly as that, but not a bad place to start for sure.

As reported, it is the essence of anti-intellectualism. It says, don't explain the problem to me, the possible solutions, their costs. Just tell me what Obama did and I'll do the opposite.

The sad part is that we should have seen this coming, from comment sections such as these. That is the lowest and all too common denominator. Now in high office.

Here is a poem I wrote for your knees.

Tyler Cowen and Catherine Rampell are now endorsing the border wall.

A somewhat related finding: Citizens with high job insecurity and little control vote more for extreme right parties. Feelings of loss of control, downward mobility and low future prospects correlate with extreme right (German AfD) votes. The subjective feelings and worries about the future may be more relevant that the current situation and current income. (Note: this research was done by a worker's union think tank, but it's interesting anyway.)

For German speakers: Es sind also weniger reale Entbehrungen, sondern vor allem eine Kombination aus wahrgenommenem Abstieg in der Vergangenheit und Abstiegsängsten – auch in der Arbeitswelt – in Bezug auf die Zukunft, die dazu führen, dass Menschen AfD wählen oder es grundsätzlich in Erwägung ziehen. Menschen, die AfD wählen oder es in Erwägung ziehen, befinden sich somit überwiegend nicht in einer finanziell prekären Situation, aber sie fühlen sich vor möglichen Krisen in der Zukunft nicht ausreichend geschützt.

I remember a minimum wage of $1.60 and was thrilled to be paid $1.90 instead. I must have been a valued employee. I was hired to do light accounting work for the soda bottling company, which essentially consisted of checking out all of the route salesmen at the end of the day. It was the most important job I ever had. I had no idea that grown men worked so hard for such little money. And I was the enforcer: I'd count the cash and charge receipts and finish my calculations and look at the grown man across the table and inform him he was $40 short. It might as well have been $1,000. And I was just a kid. I learned two very important lessons: for the vast majority of working men and women, work was a daily toil with very little reward, and they were proud of their hard work and the uniform they wore with the cola company's image emblazoned on it.

We should start insisting that all old people adjust their reminiscences to current dollars. I have no idea what the takeaway is here. Were you making a lot of money, a little, or what?

The minimum wage in 1968 was $1.60 or $11.50 in today's dollars. rayward was raking in $13.65 an hour in today's dollars that year as a kid, but he didn't have a smart phone so life had little meaning then.

"but he didn’t have a smart phone so life had little meaning then."

It's rayward. He probably doesn't have a smart phone today.

We should start insisting that all old people adjust their reminiscences to current dollars.

Speaking as an old guy sometimes guilty of unadjusted reminiscence, I like this idea.

I post on a music forum and too many in their 60s sometimes write: "I saw Led Zepplin for only $8 in 1972!" Some don't appreciate my inflation adjustments.


I also started at $1.60 per hour, and ended up the idle rich. America!

If I hit a hole in one, or another fifty foot putt, on St. Simone's Island, I would like Rayward to declare that he saw Jim Brown live and in living color.

And that is a great thing, because the thing businesses want the most is most customers not having enough money to buy what they need because selling high profit items they don't need is much easier.

Like flavored corn syrup water, lottery tickets, corn chips, candy, beer,...

When depressed by not being able to provide your family with necessities, what does it matter if you buy short term harmful pleasures to provide them and yourself with instant momentary gratification.

Real estate developers want their market limited to only 10% of the population.

Doctors and hospitals want their customers limited to 10% of the population who are high income, and grudgingly those who government pays medical bills for.

Economies are zero sum. TANSTAAFL

Low income workers mean low income customers who will not be able to pay for the stuff businesses want to sell to 90% of the population.

Can 90% of businesses make high profits selling to just 10%, or maybe 20%, of the population?

BTW, I'm guessing Amazon sells to a higher median income population than Walmart by a big margin, even after Amazon has qualified Prime Pantry in some areas for SNAP. Walmart is the biggest redeemer of SNAP benefits, with that being such a big favor in Walmart revenue and profits, policy debates over SNAP get high level management attention, as last reported in 2013 in SEC filings. Since erased for political reasons from public filings.

See Walmart Could Lose $12.7 Billion in Sales Over Next Decade if Food Stamps Are Slashed

Note, getting poor customers in the door to redeem SNAP let's Walmart sell them high profit things they don't need as compensation for what they need being beyond their income and SNAP.

But it's not the just Walmart, "Target (TGT, -0.92%), whose grocery business is struggling to find traction with shoppers, could lose $4.8 billion to $5.3 billion", "After Walmart and Target, Aldi faces the largest threat with $4.4-$4.9 billion in jeopardy; Kroger with $3.6-$3.9 billion and Kmart with $1.9-$2.2 billion at risk. The potential hit to sales across the industry comes at a time food prices are already falling."

Over half of US children, from birth, qualify for and are enrolled in government single payer health care, which pretty much qualifies them for free food at school, and their family for some SNAP benefit, though the amount is often too small to justify the cost in lost wages and gas to get to the welfare office to qualify. The kids get enrolled in SCHIP by hospital workers doing the paperwork so the hospital gets paid.

Economists need to focus on creating the supply of customers with money the customers can spend at businesses to make more businesses profitable enough to grow to increase their sales revenues.

are you just ctrl-v'ing the entire contents of your clipboard here?

I am compiling an MR comment of the day calendar, thinking of giving mulp his own month. "Economies are zero sum" today, wonder if the mulp will argue against continental drift tomorrow

Hey, I buy lottery tickets!

Good article. She will get a lot of grief for such common sense.

Not from Bezos, she won't.

Do people eat serrano chilis?

What is the god damn difference between in-between and between?

Why, it's almost as if the Federal high-minimum-wage advocates are intentionally trying to hurt the red states.

No, they just never bothered to look at any statistics and settled on 15 because it allows for an awesome alliterative slogan.

dead on

Good point. I can't wait for what's next.

"Thrash For Thirty?"

Meh. This is why I can't be a lefty, I'm terrible at this.

"No, they just never bothered to look at any statistics and settled on 15 because it allows for an awesome alliterative slogan."

So pure tribalism and stupidity.

Well, you can find minimum wage advocates who will make that explicit (though it's not really common). For example:

Today the division is no longer between slave and free states, or agrarian and industrial states, but between two models of industrial society — the Northern model, based on adequate public service funding and taxation and unionization, and the Southern model, based on low-tax, low-service government and low-wage, non-unionized, easily exploited labor. If the industrial North and the industrial South compete for global capital investment, then the industrial South is likely to prevail, because Northern advantages in the form of a skilled workforce and superior public services are unlikely to overcome the South’s advantages of low wages and low taxes and state and local tax subsidies. The result, sooner or later, will be the Southernization of the North and Midwest, as states in the historic middle-class core of the U.S. are forced by economic pressure to emulate the arrangements of Alabama and Mississippi and Texas.

The alternative to the Southernization of the U.S. is the Americanization of the South — a process that was not completed by Reconstruction and the New Deal and the Civil Rights era, which can be thought of as the Second Reconstruction. The non-Southern states, through their representatives in Congress and the executive branch, and with the help of enlightened Southerners, need to use the power of the federal government to put a stop to the Southern conservative race-to-the-bottom strategy once and for all.

Call it the Third Reconstruction. The first step is to end the race to the bottom in wages and regulation, by national action. The national minimum wage should be gradually raised until it is a living wage, of $10 to $12 an hour, and it should be adjusted for inflation.

The difference between taxes in Alabama and taxes in Ohio is just not that large.

Taxes in the Great Lakes states amount to roughly 10% of personal income. In the South East, it's 8.5%. In the Acela corridor, it's 11.5%.

Is that large enough of a difference to drive migration and business decisions?

Surely if these public services were so great, a small increase in taxes would pay for itself in improved living conditions and efficiency. I keep getting told by liberal economists that the multiplier effect is huge and that public investment pays itself many times over.

Two factors I think she should consider as well as the left and right:

1. The right has brought a lot of this on themselves by attacking market friendly policies that help the poor while leaving market dynamics in place. For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit and payroll tax cuts were attacked on the right even though they boost the take home pay of the low wage worker without forcing higher costs on his or her employer. In essence, since the right can't be trusted to honor a more market friendly version of the social contract, it makes sense that the left resort to the more blunt tools like min. wage hikes.

2. Also related to this are non-direct wage programs like Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion that are in the right's direct line of sight. An $8 min/wage in an environment where you can at least have health coverage with Medicaid or health coverage with the ACA plus a subsidy to lower the premium is a radically different environment than one with just an $8/wage and a 'choice' to take your overtime as time and a half cash pay or as time off (who do you think will really be making that 'choice'?).

This is a strange analysis. The victims of unwise minimum wage hikes and overtime rules are the workers that lose employment and hours. Why would any pro- or anti- result on the EITC or payroll tax cuts cause the left to "resort to the more blunt tools" if those tools put workers out of work? Similarly, why would one respond to Obamacare repeal and Medicaid reform, if they ever happen, by putting workers out of work?

The upside of a min. wage hike would be the average increase per impacted worker times the # of workers. The downside is the average reduction in employment time the wages lost. There's no guarantee the two groups always are equal nor that the first group can't be larger than the second.

I think the moral argument is that if someone works full time, they should be able to live a somewhat decent life. The min. wage may accomplish this however it implies those that employ low skilled labor bear the brunt. It's nice that Google and Apple pay their people well, but it's quite easy to pay someone well when you have them generating huge value added. The business that pays someone with mental problems to keep the floor well swept is not going to have such an easy time paying that person enough to have a decent life...

I would argue that the EITC and like measures are more fair in that they distribute the burden to society rather than to the one guy whose actually hiring people at the bottom of the wage ladder. On top of that since you are removing a burden and barrier to work you are probably making things better as you are pulling some people into the labor force that would otherwise have been left out.

"For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit and payroll tax cuts were attacked on the right "

History of the EITC:

"Enacted in 1975, the initially modest EIC has been expanded by tax legislation on a number of occasions, including the widely-publicized Tax Reform Act of 1986, and was further expanded in 1990, 1993, 2001, and 2009"

1975 - Ford

1986 - Reagan

1990 - Bush Sr

1993 - Clinton

2001 - Bush Jr.

2009 Obama

So, a tax credit created by a Republican administration and expanded by every Republican and Democratic president is " attacked on the right ". Your comment is historically ignorant.

You think the pre-Trump Republican Party is the same as the post-Trump one. How cute. The turning point, however, was probably Romney. Recall the whole "half of America doesn't pay taxes" routine.

It'll be even more than half if they double the standard deduction.

And Friedman's idea was that ALL of the other welfare programs like Food Stamps, AFDC, housing subsidies, etc. would be eliminated. Instead, the EITC has become an increasingly expensive addition to those programs. So, no, the right should not be suckered into creating or expanding any of these more market-oriented policies (without at least a one-for-one reduction in other programs).

Food stamps (and other programs) are contingent upon your cash income. Getting a huge EITC payment will likely lower or eliminate your food stamp eligibility. The right used to pretend to care about making poverty programs effective, the pretense is long gone now (witness the Health Care bill which was basically equal to a college kid who rushes a massive term paper the night before it's due...getting drunk beforehand....hoping to scrape out a low C because the real priority is partying during the summer rather than repeating the class).

EITC pays out a maximum of something like $40 per month if you are single and don't have children. It is not a substitute for food stamps at current benefit levels. Real spending on AFDC/TANF cash assistance ("welfare") is about a third of what it was before the 1990s welfare reform bill so at least one program has been substantially reduced as EITC has expanded.

Could be just NJ but I know people who are single and don't get food stamps because their disability check puts them over the income limit (during the stimulus they briefly had food stamps).

I'd be ok with the 'swap' idea where the welfare state is swapped for a guaranteed income but that would have to come with a guaranteed other words, something better than "here's your $24,000 check and BTW, the cheapest health insurance policy for someone your age and pre-existing conditions is $20K a year with a $15K deductible".

It's not the right's fault for objecting to an ever expanding cradle-to-grave welfare state even if it's nominally more "market friendly" ("____friendly" is annoying). And no, the right should never trust the left to stop at ostensibly more market-oriented approaches because the left is rarely satisfied until they get ever more government-oriented approaches, e.g., Obamacare is merely a way station to single payer. It is one thing to settle for third way socialism if policy is going from a less market-oriented policy but it is far less acceptable if policy is going in the wrong direction.

Social Security, Old Age pensions, unemployment, these things have been a feature of the developed world for well over a century now. The idea that any social safety net is an automatic 'camel's nose in the tent' to socialism is about as intelligent as those who say 'real communism' has never really been tried so we don't know if it would be bad.

The pattern of entitlement programs of the welfare state is that they expand, which means more government in one form or another. Saying that ever more taxes and regulations isn't as bad as central planning is only a modest consolation, especially if it is a disagreement over ends, not merely means. The right has been derelict in gainsaying the animating goal of Obamacare, namely, universal coverage, which paved the way for Trump to promise the sky at lower cost.

Plenty of entitlements don't expand, you know little about them because they are barely noticed. One entitlement, you can mail any letter anywhere in the US regardless of how far or how difficult it is to get there for the price of a stamp. Transportation, though, has become more efficient AND our settlement patterns have been shaped along lines of easy delivery so no one much cares about our 'postage entitlement' except for a few eccentric cranks mulling over the 1960/70's conservative idea of privatizing the post office. More current example are 'Obama phones' (actually Bush phones since they were a program to give poor people on Medicaid cell phones which is cheaper than 'medical alert' devices). A basic cell phone that does nothing but make phone calls and text messages is cheaper now than it ever was.

Social Security and Medical based entitlements expand because our population has been aging for the half century plus and medical prices have been going up faster than inflation (inflation is just an average, some stuff goes up faster than it and other stuff goes up slower).

Obamacare is merely a way station to single payer.

This is often said by people both on the left and the right. There are a few problems:

1. Your side won the White House by campaigning on essentially single payer (i.e. not that everyone has a 'choice' to pay for a high deductible policy but instead will have 'great coverage' that's cheap, let's them go to any doctor they want, covers everything etc. etc.. If you don't like single payer don't blame the left if it comes to the US when you yourself are morally complicit in it).

2. Medicare and Medicaid are both single payer systems that are very old now in the US but despite their existence, they were hardly 'way stations' to single payer. If anything they probably delayed single payer. Those that are on Medicare can be rallied to feel as if extending it somehow will dilute their benefit plus by covering large portions of the population that would be relatively expensive to cover, it actually makes regular health insurance less insane as a market since the under 65 population is much healthier than the 65+...despite the fact that we all have been getting fatter over the decades.

3. With the ACA we have coverage rates close to 90%. If you provided simple but serious subsidies to try to help the exchange markets (Alaska, for example, set up a $50M, that's million not billion, fund for insurance companies that get very sick patients in their pool and turned a 20% increase to a 7% increase). Sorry both left wingers and right, if you have huge coverage rates with our existing single payer systems, employer based coverage and healthy exchanges, you're going to take a lot of steam out of the single payer train.

I wish I could read the article - but will not subscribe the Bezos Post - toke defiance of one the most prolific providers of fake news. BUT - like much of what gets published on this topic - some adjustment needs to be made for tax impact - $15 and hour in NY or CT is not the same as $15 and hour in Mississippi

TC's summary was pretty good. Core of the argument was that if you do a $15 min wage consider in many places *more* than 50% of people are working at jobs for less than $15/hr. Clearly the response is not going to be a simple raise for half of the working population....(nor will it be 50% of workers will be laid off in place of robots).

You get 10 free articles per month. If you max that, incognito window is your friend.

Mouse over the hyperlink and note the title, which is in the URL. Google that title. Click through to bypass paywall.

So, where do you go exactly to get your fake news?

I actually want to see the US implement a 15 dollar nation-wide minimum wage. It will be a good demonstration of the elasticity of labor demand.

But Cost of Living is 83 percent of national average in MS vs. 135 percent in CA or 138 in NY. Two states that MS' real, median, income tax adjusted personal income exceeds.

As all economists know: it's not what you make it's what you can buy that matters. And blue states are largely doing a terrible job at affordability.

And Tyler is doing a terrible job with this post of conveying that reality.

Great comment!

I would bet that you afford more on median hourly wage in Mississippi than you can in New Your city or San Fransisco.

We should do something about Mississippi!

Arkansas and West Virginia can just cash their White Privilege checks.

Hey, does this mean that by raising the minimum wage everyone can make more than the median? :)

Seriously, I think that this is the first time that I have seen a left-leaning writer use the phrase, "far-left impulses of [the Democratic Party's] base," acknowledging the far-left shift of the party. She also mentions the reluctance of those concerned about the damaging consequences of the Obama overtime rule to discuss those concerns on the record. There have been other cases where PC-censorship has claimed victims on the center-left, not just the right. Perhaps, we are reaching a turning point where sane voices in the Democratic Party are beginning to acknowledge the problems that the far-left are creating for the Party. (Overcoming denial is the first step.) With Republicans controlling the White House, Congress, and roughly 65-70% of state legislatures and governerships, the present situation is similar in some respects to the late 80s, when Democrats had suffered a series of crushing electoral defeats. Bill Clinton's recognition that the Party had to rid itself, and convince the country that it had rid itself, of the left's excesses then paved the way for a Democratic revival. Perhaps, after temporarily forgetting, people will re-learn the lessons of the past.

“far-left impulses of [the Democratic Party’s] base,” - Or have we learned nothing of "take it seriously but not literally". Does anyone think even with a Democratic majority and President a $15/min wage would easily pass when even in high cost of living cities/states with liberal orientated population getting such wages passed is a struggle AND they often come with a long phase-in?

In reality if Trump's implosion brought in a Sanders type majority coupled with a Democratic President more likely than not a min. wage increase would be less than $15 (or whatever $15 looks like 3.5 years from now) and would be much less dramatic (i.e. long phase in, perhaps variable based on cost of living geography etc.).

On a road trip in Arizona, I passed through several predominantly native American counties, none of which had a median income anywhere close to $15/hr. What is the Progressive's plan for these people?

What, the Republican Party hasn't gotten any of those high paying coal mines open there?

Preventative whataboutism. Impressive

Whataboutism is all the rage. Hillary Clinton and Obama are still the topic of most Trumpist posts.

"Hillary Clinton and Obama are still the topic of most Trumpist posts."

2009, Bush is still the topic of most ObamaBot posts.

2001, Clinton is still the topic of most Bushites

1993, Bush is still the topic of most Clintonite posts.

1981, Carter is still the topic of most Reaganites posts.

The phrase "whataboutism" is just a silly attempt to shut down political debate. It's been standard in my entire lifetime to compare the current President's actions and policies with similar actions and policies of the person they ran against and their nearest predecessor of the opposite party.

I suspect the only President not subject to this type of conversation was George Washington. And there was still plenty of Whataboutism between his policies and John Adams proposed policies.

Clearly having a min. wage well below $15/hr has not accomplished the goal of mass employment in Arizona's Native American counties. It's actually kind of hard to say what an increased min. wage would do there. I suspect it would probably help some families there since low cost of living areas are somewhat easier to do a family on min/wage jobs than more average ones.

I found the initial question to be a kind of whataboutism to begin with. Odds are most general policies that progressives would favor (like an infrastructure spend program) would help generally but not specifically. For example, now that unemployment is less than 5% rather than just under 10%, that probably helps in those counties in Arizona but relatively speaking they are still worse off than many other communities. A general policy that generally helps works there as well but that doesn't mean a specific set of solutions are also needed.

"excellent study"

Yeah, if you forget that she paid no attention to the rising minimum wage being phased in over 7 years or so and quotes as gospel a "study" that should not be considered gospel,''

I love people who rate studies depending on their conclusions.

"I’ve long been a big admirer of Catherine Rampell, but her piece today on “unintended consequences” of pro-worker policies was uncharacteristically unconvincing. She goes after two specific upgrades to existing labor standards: the increase in the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $15 per hour, and the increase in the salary threshold below which workers have to be paid time-and-a-half for overtime."

Really? You think a 7 year phase in period is going to make a $15 per hour National minimum work out?

Inflation has been averaging about 2.25% for the last 20 years. So, assuming that trend continues then that would imply that a $15 minimum wage in 2024 would be equal to $13.40 in 2017 dollars.

Do you really think that hiking the minimum wage from $7.25 in 2017 dollars to $13.40 in 2017 will have no significant effect?

No, I don't.

Could be wrong.

If it match the minimum wage in the 60s it would be around $11 right now. As long as everyone has to pay it, there is no competitive advantage or disadvantage. Obviously, consumers pay for that. What would be the increase on consumer purchases? Insignificant. Wouldn't change anyone's buying.

And whenever I hear "it will cost jobs", I have to laugh. If you have more employees because the minimum wage is low, you are a totally incompetent businessperson. Your workforce is there to do accomplish their work. You don't add people because they are cheap. Unless you are clueless.

The assumption that a small price increase won't lead to decreased sales is wrong.

As witness gasoline sales, right? It is a complex subject, but a minor price increase does not necessarily lead to a reduction in sales of that product.

@p_a, do you have a reference for that? I'm not familiar with the evidence about gasoline prices.

Daily experience - we are talking about minor increases, after all. If gasoline costs 2 cents a gallon more than last week, there is no appreciable change in the sale of gasoline.

This also applies to the fact that different jurisdictions have different gasoline prices, yet the amount of gasoline sold does not seem to be notably different. Though a complicated subject in its way - people aware of a higher price, think NJ Turnpike, try their best to plan not buying gasoline at a rest stop.

Some things fluctuate routinely in price, and sales seem to remain stable. As for data - is one place to see American gas sales, and gives information about prices - which have increased about 10% since last year.

Of course gasoline is hard to substitute, the way a Big Mac is. Nonetheless, American society seems to be able to handle an increase in gasoline prices of 5% with essentially zero disruption. For example, the price of gasoline appears to have increased about 6% in the last month -

As a note, it is extremely hard to over recommend the EIA web site for anyone interested in empirical data concerning liquid fuels.

"Small" is one thing and "short term" another. I wouldn't expect gas sales to be very responsive to short term fluctuations, because people have very limited ability to alter behavior in the short term. Lifestyle changes like buying a different car, living somewhere where you have to drive less, etc., take awhile to come to fruition. I would expect a small long term price increase to have an effect.

Thanks for the data, but it would take a rigorous study of this data and price data to assess whether small price fluctuations have any effect.

'“Small” is one thing and “short term” another.'

Of course - but 10% over a year is not precisely small, nor is it precisely short term. However, oil is an extremely volatile in price, and an increase of 30% from 10 years ago does not have the same impact as a decrease of 50% from 5 years ago (made up example which likely fits closely enough to at least one 10 year period of the last 50 years).

'I would expect a small long term price increase to have an effect.'

Too much complexity to be straightforward, but using raw numbers would show this not to be especially true.

'Thanks for the data, but it would take a rigorous study of this data and price data to assess whether small price fluctuations have any effect.'

No, it would be extremely easy. The problem comes in defining 'small price fluctuation' and short term - that part about daily experience was not anecdata, it was the reality of how Americans purchase gasoline - a shift of 5% one way or the other in a week or month makes no difference (for example, the seasonal rise/fall in gas prices has been going on for decades, and has zero effect on gas sales - nobody skips buying gas in the summer to wait for the prices to fall again in the fall.)

Oil is maybe not completely fair - if the price of oil was to double in a week, and the supply remained essentially the same for the American consumer, sales would not fall very far for a while - carpooling might increase, for example, and discretionary driving would decrease, but it is extremely hard for most Americans to simply abandon driving in response to a doubling of gas prices. Longer term, changes would seem to have to be made - well, not that American history since 1973 actually shows that happening.

If there's a small price increase and it leads to a decrease in sales then you're saying consumers would respond by increasing savings. If savings increased the cost of investment would likely decrease

You gotta remember who these workers are.

"If the minimum wage were increased to $15 an hour, prices at fast food restaurants would rise by an estimated 4.3 percent, according to a new study. That would mean a McDonald’s Big Mac, which currently goes for $3.99, would cost about 17 cents more, or $4.16."

Not that I have eaten one of those things for over 30 years, but 18 cents? C''mon.

And yeah, I know 18 cents here, 18 cents there, it all adds up. To almost nothing.

It's a great thing almost nothing isn't nothing or else calculus wouldn't work (and Newton would be as unemployed as your empowered "living wage" hamburger assembler)

"If it match the minimum wage in the 60s it would be around $11 right now. "

LOL, yes in a period when women and blacks were held back from fully competing in the work force, wages for white men were pretty high. And $11 is substantially less than $15.

So that 18 cents would make you not buy?

Beyond slily.

18 cents would certainly reduce sales. The lower sales would mean they need to raise prices even higher to break even. And there may be no break even price point for some marginal restaurants. This is standard stuff. The fact that it seems like a trivial price difference for you as an individual doesn't mean there is no systemic effect.

But also, it's a flawed study. Full text here:

They assume that everyone working in a restaurant would make exactly minimum wage. No raises, no higher pay for supervisors, etc.

They also assume that the input costs would not change, even though the higher minimum wage would also have an impact on the cost of food, services, etc.

Also, they are looking at aggregate numbers for the entire fast food industry. This includes a wide variety of restaurants and business models. Assuming the effect on price at McDonald's, at the very low end of the industry, would be the same as the average is quite questionable.

"So that 18 cents would make you not buy?

Beyond slily."

That's just a moronic statement. Are you too stupid to do basic math? It's not an 18 cents change. It's an increase to all prices. And the study in questions said that the smallest increases would be at limited service restaurants and those would go up on average by 4.3%. I have a family of 6. We spend more than $4.19 if we go to McDonalds. A whole lot more.

Frankly, your silly arguments hurt the case for a minimum wage increase.

"They also assume that the input costs would not change,..."

That's a Yellow Flag, that this was a biased study.

Here's an article that has 3 different estimates on the expected increases in the Fast Food industry:from a $15/hour minimum wage. They are 17%, 27% and 43%.

At least the guy is writing for the right site.

"Company owned"
" employee payroll and benefits"

He takes the labor cost for all company run stores and multiplies it by the min wage increase amount. Including benefits, and figuring out that every single person in that store is making minimum wage.

" I would be the high end of any possible price increase."

Yep, you sure would.

Are you willing to admit that the 4% is one estimate and it's likely lower than the actual increase would be? Or are you going to stick with cherry picking the lowest estimate you can find and declare it the only one that counts?

"On July 1, 2015, starting wages at McDonald's company-owned restaurants in the U.S. will be one dollar over the locally-mandated minimum wage. The wages of all employees up to restaurant manager will be adjusted accordingly based on tenure and job performance. By the end of 2016, McDonald's projects that the average hourly wage rate for McDonald's employees at company-owned restaurants will be in excess of $10.

Also on July 1, full- and part-time crew employees at company-owned restaurants, with at least one year of service, will begin to accrue personal paid time-off. For example, an employee who works an average of 20 hours per week will be eligible to accrue approximately 20 hours of paid time off per year. If these employees don't take the time off they've earned, they will be paid for the value of that time."


I am certainly not going to say that the study I posted is the final word, end of story.

]However, that other estimate is beyond inane. A total waste of time. And the study I posted seems to take into account all parameters. Doesn't make it perfect, but I doubt it is far off, while the study(sic) you posted makes no sense of any kind at all.

There were 3 different estimates from 3 different sources in the article I posted. I'm not sure you actually read the article.

Sorry, I ignored the study by the student as it just has a increase with nothing else. And the one on tee increases of food costs is just a part of this scenario.

Perhaps you did not read your link correctly.

LOL, I read it. Furthermore, there's the link that dan1111 posted above:

"In order to compensate for higher wages, prices would have to increase between 4 and 25% and/or product size would have to be scaled back between 12 and 70%. "

4% is the very low end estimate, it is more probable that the actual effect would be quite a bit higher.

Once again, I got some numbers and nothing else. Unless that link goes somewhere I cannot find, I just have a paragraph.

So, the link I provided has detailed analysis which you have not argued against. Your "proofs" consists of "here is the increases" and the main study is beyond stupid.

Could it be more than 4%? Of course.

Let me know when you discover a study that actually details their process.

Oh, that was amusing. I just ran through your listed links.

The study your ThinkProgress article is pointing to is the one I just linked to above.

The ThinkProgress links to the Purdue study

And at the bottom of the page:

"The Minimum Wage, A Competitive Wage and the Price of a Burger: Can Competitive Wages be Offered in Limited-Service Restaurants?

Richard Ghiselli, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Purdue University; Jing Ma, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Purdue University

The purpose of this paper was to examine the effect that higher wages and health-care benefits have on costs and prices in limited-service restaurants. In order to compensate for higher wages, prices would have to increase between 4% and 25% and/or product size would have to be scaled back between 12% and 70%."

Your own link indicates that 4 to 25% is the range.

Please. More than one study. Let me know when you have the details of the study from Ma.

"also examined the impact of limited-service restaurants offering health-care benefits and found that, due to current tax credits in the Affordable Care Act, there would be a minimal effect on prices at limited-service restaurants with fewer than 25 full-time employees."

Come on, you've been insisting that 4% isn't that much the whole time based upon a single study. I just pointed out that the actual study you are referring to, states a range of from 4% to 25%. And now you are trying to side step your whole position.

It's up to you to provide proof to support your position. I already pointed out that your own link doesn't support the position you have made.

Lots of people butt hurt about the min wage. Three words people: COST. OF. LIVING.
Also people arent going to stop moving to the south. I guess everybody wants to risk poverty for the warm weather.

"An increase in the federal minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 for eight years, is long overdue."

She learned nothing.

It’s unfortunate that it’s so low, as I believe it’s not good enough and needs to be more. I always feel that everyone out there deserves more. I prefer my own way via doing Forex trading and it helps with 100% support like OctaFX, as they have excellent support having mighty low spreads at 0.1 pips for all major pairs, zero balance protection, over 70 instruments and highly qualified team of experts providing us with market forecast on daily and weekly basis as well!

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