Minimum wage talks begin in Olympia … won’t end there

In today’s column I write that the governor’s proposed minimum wage increase is intended as a key part of the 2014 campaign season.

Austin Jenkins has more at the NW News Network, where he writes that Democrats may have a proposal out as early as this week. Republicans are countering with their own plans to pre-empt local wage initiatives like that passed in SeaTac and proposed in Seattle. As Jenkins writes,

What you’re seeing is labor and Democrats teeing up an issue that is ripe for the election season and also something that if they have the long game in view, they may be working down here for the next few years.

In my piece, I point out that the wage hikes cost jobs and reduce opportunity. This is an issue we have examined at length in our report on SeaTac’s Proposition 1.

Economist Tyler Cowen has a good post yesterday discussing how minimum wage hikes do a lousy job of targeting assistance to the poor. He reviews some recent research and comes around to the critical observation:

There has been a recent kerfluffle over the Sabia and Burkhauser paper (ungated here) suggesting that minimum wage increases do not very much help the American poor.  Sabia and Burkhauser report facts such as this:

Only 11.3% of workers who will gain from an increase in the federal minimum wage to $9.50 per hour live in poor households…Of those who will gain, 63.2% are second or third earners living in households with incomes three times the poverty line, well above 50,233, the income of the median household in 2007.

That’s what I call not very well targeted toward helping the poor.  To the best of my knowledge, these numbers have not been refuted or even questioned.

In other words, the state is considering a wage hike that will cost the youngest and least skilled workers their jobs while doing little to help the poor. Just how is this a good idea?