Posts filed under “Wages & Income”

Shifting the Goalposts in Seattle Minimum Wage Debate

@TBPInvictus here

It’s been a few months since the first increase in the Seattle minimum wage (see here for the schedule of bump ups).

Even before the initial April 1 rise, we were treated to a chorus of conservative voices claiming that the restaurant business in Seattle was doomed. The nexus for many of the claims was an outright fabrication by the Washington Policy Center’s Paul Guppy (emphasis mine):

As the implementation date for Seattle’s strict $15 per hour minimum wage law approaches, the city is experiencing a rising trend in restaurant closures.  The tough new law goes into effect April 1st.

There are really two lies in there: First, Guppy implies the rate was set to go straight to $15, which it was not. But the bigger lie was the second — that the city was already undergoing a “rising trend in restaurant closures.”

That lie was picked up and disseminated through many conservative outlets, including the American Enterprise Institute, Forbes, Hot Air,, Shift Washington, and others:

Mark Perry’s AEI story: Seattle’s new minimum wage law takes effect April 1 but is already leading to restaurant closings and job losses

Forbes: Restaurants are closing at higher than normal rates.

Headline at Hot Air: Seattle eateries closing as $15 minimum wage approaches

Dori Monson at Seattle restaurants are closing because of the coming of $15 an hour.

Headline at ShiftWA: More Seattle restaurants close doors as $15 minimum wage approaches

Anyone who’s been following the data — either here or via my Twitter feed — knows that the Seattle restaurant business continues to grow briskly. Forget the alt.narrative, we have been looking at restaurant openings and closings, as well as new restaurant permit applications. When we track the various restaurant-related NAICS categories for Seattle: Limited-service restaurants, full-service restaurants, mobile food services, drinking places (alcoholic beverages), and snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars, we see the actual numbers, the hard data. This is the world of reality — not ideological driven narrative or wishful thinking.

As the new minimum wage has failed to kill the Seattle restaurant business, it’s apparently time to move the goalposts, as I saw recently via these Twitter exchanges:


So, now that devastation and despair have not been visited upon the fair city of Seattle, well, we’ll just have to wait and see now, won’t we?

Eventually, for a variety of reasons, the growth of the Seattle restaurant business will slow, and at some point might well contract. However, as I’ve also repeatedly pointed out, my in-the-know contacts in Seattle suggest that it will be rent before minimum wage that causes such a shift.

Now, to be fair, I’d not known about Mr. Grisanti or his position prior to my recent interactions with him on Twitter. Maybe he sincerely believes that $11 is okay but, perhaps, $12.38 would be too much. I don’t know. What I do know is that the vast majority of conservative commentators called for disaster before the fact, have shot themselves in the foot, and have offered no explanations or apologies for having done so.

For the record, I reached out to Mr. Guppy some time ago and pointed out the error in his piece that was subsequently seized upon by other conservative outlets. After a vigorous debate about whether or not I possessed any integrity as a pseudonymous blogger (“Someone who hides his identity is in no position to instruct others about integrity.”), Mr. Guppy explained that no correction would be forthcoming because the Washington Policy Center had accurately cited another source – Seattle Magazine – that had recently written a piece on some Seattle restaurants that had closed:

Regarding the substance, we’re not going to agree on this. You see the issue one way, based on data you find persuasive, and we see it another. You’re demanding some sort of correction, but that’s not going to happen because I don’t think it’s merited. We quoted our sources accurately. You are welcome to expound your views any way you like, and in any manner you like, but we are not required to agree.

Yes, I saw the issue one way – based on that actual data – and Mr. Guppy saw it another, based on his ability to accurately quote a source, take some of that source’s content out of context, and twist it into what he wanted it to be to fit his ideological agenda.

In the interest of quoting sources accurately, I’ll share this excerpt from that very same piece (emphasis mine):

Though none of our local departing/transitioning restaurateurs who announced their plans last month have mentioned this as an issue*, another major factor affecting restaurant futures in our city is the impending minimum wage hike to $15 per hour.

So “none” – not one – of the departing restaurateurs cited the impending minimum wage, yet the Washington Policy Center and others claimed it was already having an adverse effect. The article’s author made a grievous error, in my opinion, by speculating about what might or might not happen based on the impending hike (which was not, of course, directly to $15).

I will close again – you may be feeling some déjà vu here – with a note about the Seattle Magazine piece: I corresponded with Ms. Jones, that piece’s author, and came away with the impression that she was very surprised at the way her article had been hijacked. She closed one piece of correspondence with me thus:

All of that said, this has been a big learning experience for me and I would craft the article differently next time. I never intended to claim and do not claim now that restaurants are closing due to the minimum wage increase.

 So, there it is from the original source. Shame on those who hijacked, twisted, and contorted that story to fit their narrative.


Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Employment, Financial Press, Really, really bad calls, Wages & Income

IRS Income Data on US Households

Source: Bloomberg

Category: Data Analysis, Economy, Wages & Income

2015 Two-Bedroom Rental Unit Housing Wage

Source: WonkBlog

Category: Wages & Income

2015 Executive Pay by Peer Group

Fascinating data set assembled by the crack team at Bloomberg:   Source: Bloomberg  

Category: Corporate Management, Digital Media, Wages & Income

Wal-Mart’s Pay Raises Are Paying Dividends

I have been writing critiques of Wal-Mart’s wages and employment policies for years (see “How Wal-Mart Became A Welfare Queen” and “Wal-Mart’s Minimum Wage Breakdown“). Today, I break with tradition and offer up some positive perspectives on the retail giant’s recent actions. A brief history of Wal-Mart and its enormous retail staff is telling. The…Read More

Category: Corporate Management, Retail, Wages & Income

The Sound of an Improving Labor Market

Source: WSJ

Category: Economy, Wages & Income

Dynastic Billionaire Wealth Under Siege!

This has to be the strangest headline relative to the content I have seen in a very long time:   Source: Wealth Management

Category: Economy, Really, really bad calls, Wages & Income, Wealth Management

Minimum Wage by City

Good chart, relevant to our discussion of fast food minimum wages in Seattle and earlier elsewhere this week.   click for ginormous graphic Source: NY Times

Category: Digital Media, Wages & Income

Fast Food, Minimum Wage, and Wealth Transfers

This week, Los Angeles became the third major West Coast city and the biggest in the U.S. to agree to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, an increase that will go into effect by 2020. Los Angeles follows Seattle, which will require employers with 500 workers or more to pay $15  by 2017….Read More

Category: Taxes and Policy, Wages & Income

Biggest Retirement Mistakes People Make

The data on this is fascinating:

Many people plan on supplementing their retirement funds by working past 65, but this plan may not be as sound as it seems. Bloomberg’s Suzanne Woolley breaks down the expectations and often unfortunate truths of working through retirement.

Source: Bloomberg May 18, 2015 7:32 AM EDT

Category: Data Analysis, Investing, Video, Wages & Income