Posts filed under “Employment”

Curly Joins Moe & Larry on Seattle Min Wage


Moe and Larry on Seattle’s minimum wage are now joined by Curly, a fellow by the name of Mike Patton, whose recent screed on the topic can be found here.

To demonstrate the deliterious effects of Seattle’s new law, Patton provides us the following chart:

seattle nsa by patton

(Let’s disregard the fact that what Patton cites as 3.7% is actually 3.9% (May 2014). We’ll let that slide as an honest error.)

Writes Patton:

The following graph [Ed note: Now above] contains Seattle’s unemployment rate from January 1, 2014 to July 31, 2015. I have marked two important dates and included the unemployment rate at those times. When the law was signed, May 1, 2014, Seattle’s unemployment rate was 3.70%. When the first wage hike occurred, April 1, 2015, unemployment was 3.0%. Since then, unemployment has risen steadily while the national average has trended lower.

The “NSA” in the chart title indicates that the data are not seasonally adjusted. This matters when analyzing data, and we’ll get to that shortly. For now, though, let’s pull back the lens a bit and see what the Seattle unemployment rate (not seasaonally adjusted) looks like over a longer timeframe than that which Patton provided:

city of seattle nsa unemployment


For Mr. Patton’s benefit: The reddish vertical lines correspond to the month of April. You know April – it’s the month during which the unemployment rate troughs in Seattle each and every year (as you can clearly see above). In other words, aside from analyzing a ridiculously short timeframe, seasonality tells us that Seattle’s unemployment rate troughs every April. Like clockwork. As if it were, what’s the word, seasonal. That’s what seasonality is all about – recurring patterns or trends, picked up in data, that can be subsequently adjusted.

Below is Mr. Patton’s NSA data – in Curly’s Gold – along with the same data seasonally adjusted (in blue). Although the timeframe is still absurdly short to make any meaningful inferences, we can see that the most recent SA unemployment rate, at 3.43%, is still lower than March’s 3.65% or April’s 3.60%. It is, of course, higher than June’s 3.26% but, seriously, how low can we reasonably expect it to go?

seattle curlys gold

(Source:, Seasonal Adjustment by Census Bureau’s X-13ARIMA-SEATS Seasonal Adjustment Program)

Finally, here’s a longer-term look at the data (from Feb 1990 on) – the jagged sawtooth pattern of the NSA data smoothed out by the seasonal adjustment software. The seasonal annual troughs are clearly visible:

seattle long term unrate

(Source:, Seasonal Adjustment by Census Bureau’s X-13ARIMA-SEATS Seasonal Adjustment Program)

If you can look at the chart above and a) Tell me that you can divine a problem developing with the Seattle unemployment rate and b) Ascribe the root cause of said problem to the April minimum wage hike, well, congratulations, you’re a remarkably astute observer of economics and, apparently, some sort of chart whisperer.

Bottom line: The labor market in Seattle appears fairly tight, with the unemployment rate generally lower than we’ve seen there in almost a decade, since before the Great Recession. That simply cannot last forever. When and why it eventually rises is an open question. One thing, however, is for certain: I’ve yet to see any compelling evidence from the Three Stooges that the city’s new minimum wage is adversely impacting its economy.


Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Wages & Income

Job Creation in the United States

Source: US Census

Category: Digital Media, Economy, Employment

Good News Is Bad News: Leverage Cycles and Sudden Stops

Category: Credit, Employment, Think Tank

Who Works Part-Time?

Who Works Part-Time? Lela Somoza and Ellyn Terry Not all part-time workers are underemployed. As the economic recovery continues to strengthen, policymakers have often pointed to the stubbornly high share of Americans who report working part-time for economic reasons, which many consider to be a key indicator of slack. It may surprise some, then, that…Read More

Category: Employment, Think Tank

Revisiting Seattle and Its New Minimum Wage

@TBPInvictus In yet another assault on economics, which is already begging for mercy in the wake of his ongoing intellectual dishonesty, Mark Perry recently tweeted the following: Coincidence? Restaurant jobs in WA state ex-Seattle are up +5,600 since Jan. vs. down in Seattle MSA by -100? — Mark J. Perry (@Mark_J_Perry) September 22, 2015…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Really, really bad calls

On Scaring Minimum Wage Workers

@TBPInvictus The opening paragraph of this CNNMoney piece (over one year ago) perfectly captures a growing sentiment that I’ve seen making the rounds more frequently of late: As protesters across the country call for the fast-food chains to raise their wages, a number of companies have begun experimenting with new technology that could significantly reduce…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Employment, Wages & Income

In Consideration of My Appointment to Secretary of Labor

@TBPInvictus A couple of recent items got me thinking. First was this Tweet from Dave Weigel, detailing what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie thinks of Friday’s announcement that the national unemployment rate had dropped to 5.1 percent (lower, I might add, than at any time under St. Ronnie’s presidency). Christie says the official low unemployment…Read More

Category: Employment, Markets

Top 100 Metro Areas for STEM Jobs

Click to see the stats for each city. Source: Bloomberg

Category: Digital Media, Employment, Technology

Searching for Higher Wages

Searching for Higher Wages Luis Armona, Samuel Kapon, Laura Pilossoph, Ayşegül Şahin, and Giorgio Topa Liberty Street Economics, September 2015   Since the peak of the recession, the unemployment rate has fallen by almost 5 percentage points, and observers continue to focus on whether and when this decline will lead to robust wage growth. Typically,…Read More

Category: Employment, Think Tank, Wages & Income

Mark Perry Doesn’t Understand Geography

@TBPInvictus here: As I recently highlighted, Mark Perry – an AEI scholar and professor of economics - is playing very fast and loose with data surrounding employment in Seattle post its recent minimum wage hike. In his recent “report” on the subject, which was picked up far and wide by conservative outlets, Professor Perry wrote (emphasis mine):

“In June of last year, the Seattle city council passed a $15 minimum wage law to be phased in over time, with the first increase to $11 an hour taking effect on April 1, 2015. What effect will the eventual 58% increase in labor costs have on small businesses, including area restaurants? It’s too soon to tell for sure, but there is already some evidence that the recent minimum wage hike to $11 an hour, along with the pending increase of an additional $4 an hour by 2017 for some businesses, has started having a negative effect on restaurant jobs in the Seattle area. The chart below shows that the Emerald City MSA started experiencing a decline in restaurant employment…”

The minimum wage hike took place in the city of Seattle, population ~650,000. What’s all this talk about “area restaurants,” “the Seattle area,” and the “Emerald City MSA”? (Note that companies with under 500 employees — that includes most restaurants — the actual date is 2021, not 2017).

This is simply someone with an agenda deliberately being intellectually dishonest in an attempt to mislead readers and spread misinformation widely through the conservative echo chamber. It’s a tried and true method that, unfortunately, has worked time and again.

When Perry talks about Seattle (city proper) and the “Seattle area,” you may not know it, but he’s talking about two very, very different areas.

Legislatively, economically, legally and socially, these are two completely different regions. Perhaps most important of all, in terms of data collection for the subject at hand, the map below shows exactly how different they are:


Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 6.08.17 PM


Seattle, the city in question whose minimum wage is now $11, on its way to $15 over the next 3-7 years – is (as best as Paintbrush lets me draw it) the area within the red oval. The “Seattle area” or “Emerald City MSA,” as Perry misleadingly wrote, are the three more darkly shaded counties – Pierce (bottom), King (middle), and Snohomish (top) – engulfing Seattle and making it look, well, geographically tiny in comparison.

The MSA Perry referenced as being impacted by the new minimum wage has an overall population of some 3.6 million versus the aforementioned population of Seattle at about 650,000. What’s to compare? As Media Matters put it in their takedown of Perry’s work: “The employment trends of the entire region are not representative of the impact of a local wage ordinance in a single city.” But Perry does not care, as he’s repeatedly referenced the same irrelevant data point multiple times on Twitter. He is exactly the man whom Upton Sinclair was referring to when he said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Why would anyone look at a MSA when it is the city – and ONLY THE CITY  - that has the new minimum wage law. The New York equivalent would be to suggest that perhaps an ordinance in New York City might somehow have a ripple effect in White Plains, N.Y., or Hackensack, N.J. After all, they are both part of the greater tri-state region (there is a massive New York-Newark-Jersey City MSA). It’s absurd on its face, and any honorable analyst understands this.

This suggests that Perry is engaging in fraud or ignorance. Neither reflects on him favorably. Perry should apologize and AEI should retract that piece in entirety.


An analyst as intellectually dishonest as Perry apparently is could do something similar on the flip side:

Seattle Passes Higher Minimum Wage; Area Food Biz Employment Now at 134,000!

First, I’d point out that at the end of 2013, the most recent year for which we have good statistics on the city itself, Seattle city employment in two broad categories combined – Arts, Entertainment & Recreation and Accommodation & Food Services – totaled about 40,000, as seen below.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 6.36.53 PM

Source: American FactFinder

Then, I’d trumpet the “fact” that the “Seattle area” or “Emerald City MSA” (see what I did there?) has more than tripled that total to a whopping 134,000. I’d then claim victory at having “demonstrated” that the ordinance I supported was having its desired effect.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.47.13 PM

Source: St. Louis Fed

But I’d never do such a thing. Most reputable people wouldn’t.

Read More

Category: Cognitive Foibles, Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Employment, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy, Wages & Income