Promises Made, Promises Broken: The Failure of Washington State’s Minimum Wage Law

It is startling how directly the observed changes in Washington’s economy after passage of I-688 align with the projections of minimum wage skeptics. Just as significant is the lack of any indication that enacting the nation’s highest minimum wage produced the gains promised by labor activists in any measurable or lasting way. Despite the heated rhetoric about ending “poverty-wage jobs,” the state poverty rate failed to decline beyond its historic levels. At the same time Washington’s economy was performing strongly overall, job growth in low-wage industries slowed following the increased minimum wage and has yet to recover. Low-skilled workers like teens have consistently had a more difficult time finding work and getting a foothold in the job market. Economy-infusing spending increases from low-wage workers have not been measured or proven, while research continues to indicate that minimum wage increases do not lead to net economic growth.

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