Two Sides of How Businesses are Dealing With Minimum Wage Increases

The Wall Street Journal has a pretty even-handed examination of how increases in the minimum wage has affected businesses in various cities across the U.S., focusing on San Jose, Calif. where locals voted to increase the minimum wage to $10.15 hour in 2012.

The State With the Highest Minimum Wage Is Outpacing U.S. Job Growth

From Bloomberg, a look at the minimum wage debate via the state of Washington, which has the highest state minimum wage in the country.

Eating for a Living

Instead, I'd like to point to this report by Reuters via Digg about a trend in South Korea called "gastronomic voyeurism." The young woman in the video earns $9,000 a month eating in front of a webcam for three hours a day and chatting with strangers. My stars.

Striking For Better Wages at McDonald’s

Fast food workers around the country are striking today, calling for the federal minimum wage to be increased to $15.

Happy Equal Pay Day!

Today is not a day to celebrate equal pay between the genders, as that does not exist. By "equal pay day" we (we?) mean, Happy This is How Many Extra Days Women Would Have To Work To Make As Much As Men Did In 2013 Day. Ladies, we are done working for 2013 now, hypothetically! And boy am I tired. As you may have heard, women earn on average 77 cents out of every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Here are some more SAD FACTS, courtesy of the National Women's Law Center, who is covering the pay gap all week.

Gap Stores Raising Its Hourly Wage to $10 Next Year

In a surprising move, Gap Inc. informed its employees on Wednesday that it would set $9 as the minimum hourly rate for its United States work force this year and then establish a minimum of $10 next year.

Gap said this move would ultimately raise pay for 65,000 of its 90,000 American employees, including those at Banana Republic, Old Navy and other stores.

Gap is making this move as many states consider raising their minimum wage, and as Republicans and Democrats debate a bill that includes a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

This is particularly interesting to me because I worked at Gap’s baby store in high school at the minimum wage of $6.25 an hour, which adjusted for inflation would be between $8 and $8.50 today. It’s notable that Gap is also based in San Francisco, which has a city-wide minimum wage of $10.74. California is set to raise its state minimum wage to $10 by Jan. 1 2016, and as the Times points out, by raising it’s hourly wage higher now, “Gap will help avoid a checkerboard of different wages in different states in which workers with several years’ experience might be earning $8.50 or $9 an hour and wondering why they earn less than new hires in California who will be earning a minimum of $10 an hour.” Gap CEO Glenn Murphy said this move would also go to support the company’s founders promise “to ‘do more than sell clothes.’”

Photo: Wonderlane

Corporate Profits Up, Wages Down, and a Call From 600 Economists to Raise the Minimum Wage

For the fourth year in a row, real median weekly earnings for full-time workers have fallen. Corporate profits, on the underhand have, have been on the rise. At Economix, Jared Bernstein unpacks the data and concludes that one of the few ways we can fix wage stagnation is through collective bargaining power.

A Fair Day’s Pay for a Fair Day’s Work

Arindrajit Dube, an associate professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst whose focus includes labor economics, has an editorial about the rise and fall of the minimum wage. He writes that at the heart of the debate about wage standards is the idea of fairness—the Fair Labor Standards Act which established the minimum wage in 1938 was sent to Congress by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who declared that our country should be able to provide working men and women "a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work" and that "no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country."

17 Million Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage

I have 17 million reasons for wanting to increase the minimum wage. Yes, 17 million—the number of children whose lives would be a little more secure if their moms and dads earned at least $10.10 an hour.

Minimum Wage Numbers, Here and Elsewhere

Bloomberg Businessweek has a fun graphic looking at the minimum wage by the numbers in the U.S. and a few other countries.

When New Jersey Boosted Its Minimum Wage 20 Years Ago

Annie Lowery tackles the fast food/minimum wage debate this morning in the Times magazine, and unsurprisingly, the conclusions are what they have been: economists cannot agree on what will or will not work (some have argued that the New Jersey study above, for example, may not be a microcosm of what could happen nation-wide), raising the minimum wage alone will not eradicate poverty, and since the minimum wage has eroded over time and Washington has been lead-footed when it has come to increasing it, raising it in individual states and cities has been popular among voters.

An Effort to Raise the Minimum Wage in a Mostly Blue Collar Community

The state of Washington has the highest minimum wage in the country at $9.19 an hour, and voters in a small city south of Seattle named SeaTac may soon push it up to $15 an hour if voters pass a referendum known as Proposition 1. Many of the people who live in SeaTac work at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and its nearby hotels earning an estimated $11 an hour for airline related jobs (in comparison, the minimum wage at San Francisco International Airport is $12.93 an hour), and if the proposition passes, it would double the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The editorial board at the New York Times writes:

All of which makes $15 an hour sound too high. Hardly. Over the last half-century, American workers have achieved productivity gains that can easily support a $15-an-hour minimum wage. In fact, if the minimum wage had kept pace over time with the average growth in productivity, it would be about $17 an hour. The problem is that the benefits of that growth have flowed increasingly to profits, shareholders and executives, not workers. The result has been bigger returns to capital, higher executive pay — and widening income inequality.

Efforts by the states and the federal government to raise the minimum wage are an important way to counter that dynamic.

It’ll be interesting to see if the referendum passes at SeaTac, and if so, what kind of difference raising the minimum wage in a mostly blue-collar community makes.

Photo: Spencer Thomas