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Demonstrators shout slogans and carry banners in SeaTac, Washington during a protest march from SeaTac to Seattle aimed at the fast food industry and raising the federal minimum wage and Seattle's minimum wage to $15 an hour December 5, 2013. Fast-food wo
In Seattle, Washington, they're even heading for $15 an hour.

Low-wage industry lobby groups that like to claim that raising the minimum wage would be a job-killer have a problem. It's possible to study the actual jobs outcomes of states and cities with minimum wages that can be two or three dollars an hour more than the federal level of $7.25, and:

In Washington state, small businesses are adding jobs faster than any other state in the country, according to a report from Paychex and IHS. It's also the state where minimum wage, at $9.32 per hour, is the highest. [...]

Not only was Washington the strongest state, San Francisco—with a minimum wage of $10.74, the country's highest—had the greatest job gains in the past year among cities measured.

Now, correlation is not causation, so we can't say that higher minimum wages caused job gains in Washington state and San Francisco. But we can pretty safely say they didn't kill large numbers of jobs, which is in line with large-scale studies showing that raising the minimum wage has just about zero employment effects.

Oh, sure, groups that oppose raising the minimum wage are trying to push back on this study. For instance, one "free market" think tanker says that "Washington is an attractive place for business, because of its quality of life and entrepreneurial spirit" and "We believe a higher minimum wage does in fact hurt businesses," it's just that Washington is so awesome that even the evil $9.32 minimum wage can't keep it down. But "yes, the state and city with the highest minimum wages have the best small business job growth but it would have been even better with a lower minimum wage" is an extremely weak argument. It's the one supporters of a low minimum wage are left with, though.

Reality, as reflected in a whole lot of research on the employment effects of raising the minimum wage, tells us that it's true that Washington and San Francisco have strong job gains for reasons other than their high minimum wages—but the studies and these job gains alike tell us that a minimum wage of $9.32 or $10.74 will mean that people earn more money, not that they lose their jobs.

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Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed May 14, 2014 at 08:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by Seattle & Puget Sound Kos and Daily Kos.

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