Evidence of Employment Losses After Seattle’s Minimum Wage Hike? A Cautionary Note About the use of Data

Please note that since the writing of this research note, Professor Perry has noted that he incorrectly used two data sources for the chart in question, and has updated the chart accordingly.

In recent years, advocates and policymakers in states and municipalities have been steadily pushing to increase state and local minimum wage rates. A long contested issue, many scholars have contributed to the debate about whether minimum wage increases reduce employment, and the latest round of policy changes has sparked more debate. One of the most vocal contributors of late is American Enterprise Institute (AEI) scholar and University of Michigan Flint Professor Mark Perry. He has written dozens of pieces about the minimum wage in Seattle and other locales that have increased their minimum wages.

Here, we examine his February 18th article, “New evidence suggests that Seattle’s ‘radical experiment’ might be a model for the rest of the nation not to follow.” We believe that this conclusion—even as it is cautiously stated—may depend in large part on a use of two different sources of data to compare employment in Seattle versus the number of jobs in the surrounding MSA.

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