Unemployment among British 16- and 17-year-olds suddenly began to surge after 2005. “It’s ‘difficult to explain’ … right. A total mystery. I can’t think What might have caused it.” [BritMouse via Scott Sumner.EconLog]
More: Don Boudreaux. “A poor way to reduce poverty” [Joseph Sabia, Cato Tax and Budget Bulletin, PDF] And don’t hold back, SmarterTimes, tell us what you think re: New York Times hand-wringing on the subject.
Heeding demands from constituency groups, President Obama orders a $10.10 hourly wage even for the most severely disabled workers under the scope of his federal-contractor order [USA Today] Writes Mike Bennett on Twitter: “As a parent of a disabled son, I would much rather he have a real job at five dollars an hour then a theoretical job at $10.10.”
Study here and coverage here, here, and here. The actual number in CBO’s view could be as low as near-zero or as high as a million jobs lost. “Spin it as you wish, we should not have a major party promoting, as a centerpiece initiative and for perceived electoral gain, a law that might put half a million vulnerable people out of work, and that during a slow labor market.” [Tyler Cowen] And imagine indexing the $10.10 number to ensure that its damage goes on indefinitely. More: Ramesh Ponnuru, Philip Klein, Emily Ekins, Trey Kovacs (role of unions’ self-interest). Earlier on minimum wage.
The Microsoft founder “warned against raising the minimum wage Tuesday on Morning Joe, saying it results in a ‘huge tradeoff’ that can adversely affect households in poverty.” [Free Beacon] Gates has pledged most of his fortune to philanthropic efforts, much of it targeted toward problems of poverty. [Wired]
Related: David Henderson has more on Gates’s point about how the minimum wage is not well targeted to reach poor people, and on how the impact on consumers of things like fast food is itself somewhat impoverishing. William Poole at Cato begins with the oft-repeated War of Economists’ Letters over whether minimum wage hikes do a lot of damage to employment or only a little, and then turns to the ethical questions. Tyler Cowen exposes some of the holes in the relatively new argument that the existing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) unfairly subsidizes employers and that minimum wage hikes are somehow an efficient way to recapture part of the transfer. More links: Twitter hashtag #CatoMinWage; James Dorn, Cato (“Hong Kong grew rich without a minimum wage because it undertook the reforms that fuel growth”). And on layoffs following an arbitrated doubling of wages at a New York City casino: “This just in — demand curves slope down.” [Coyote] Plus: Teen employment after minimum wage hikes: “Is there any other issue where the data conforms so strongly to basic economic intuition, and yet is widely written off as a coincidence?” [Kevin Erdmann via Tyler Cowen]
John Steele Gordon, Commentary:
[Steve Coll] also leaves out the fact that very, very few people earning the minimum wage are the sole breadwinners of a family of four. Most are entry-level employees, often teenagers, with no developed skills. Most people who take a job at the minimum wage are earning above that level within a year, having learned marketable skills.
To be polite, Mr. Coll is being tendentious.
P.S. Meanwhile, as part of its “new focus on inequality,” the New York Times ran a feature on “Life on $7.25 an Hour” and chose to profile someone whose lifestyle includes three cars and a NYC residence bought for more than $500,000. [SmarterTimes] And the Washington Post awards President Obama two Pinocchios for his comments on what economists think. Yet more: Coyote.
Following the example of California voters, Evergreen State voters were turning down the measure by a 45-55 margin at latest count [KING]. Less happily, the town of SeaTac south of Seattle will now experiment with a $15 minimum wage [same], and those in New Jersey are inscribing an indexed minimum wage into their state constitution. [Star-Ledger] Voters in Westchester County, N.Y. chose to retain County Executive Rob Astorino, whose battles with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have been chronicled in this space. [White Plains Patch]
More: Quirky soapmaker Dr. Bronner used its own product labels to crusade for the unsuccessful GMO bill. Thank you, Citizens United, for protecting its freedom to do so! [Caleb Brown]
Caleb Brown interviews me for a Cato podcast on the Administration’s new home-companion overtime rules, which could drive many elderly and disabled persons into nursing homes. Earlier here and here.
Had you heard that disabled-rights activists have staged demonstrations in Washington, D.C. to protest a new Obama administration initiative? Not only that, but the disabled-rights activists are right.
At issue is an awful scheme by the Obama Labor Department, newly headed by Secretary Thomas Perez, to abolish most of the “companionship exemption” to federal wage and hour laws, which has up to now reasonably recognized that serving as a live-in or semi-live-in paid attendant to a sick, elderly or disabled person is not really the same sort of thing as working twelve-hour days on a factory assembly line. I’ve got a new post at Cato at Liberty looking at some of the consequences we can expect from making it far more expensive to provide a kind of round-the-clock care that often keeps people out of nursing homes. More: Bloomberg.
Some background on the controversy, beyond the links in the Cato post: National Council on Disability (a federal disability-advocacy agency that was not entirely prepared to toe the line in favor of the new regs); Stephen Miller, Society for Human Resource Management; Kaiser Health News; Disability Law (“disability rights groups… fear that substantially raising the cost of personal assistance services without increasing Medicaid reimbursements will force people with disabilities into nursing homes”); PHI and Direct Care Alliance (promoting regs); National Association for Home Care and Hospice and more (commercial group opposed); ADAPT (disability rights group opposed).
More reactions: Bill McMorris/Free Beacon, Jon Hyman, Trey Kovacs/Workplace Choice.
…you need to read Megan McArdle’s column (via David Henderson). And Ira Stoll points out that some workers you see at Costco might be getting lower wages than you think.