Think a higher minimum wage is a job killer? Think again: The states that raised their minimum wages on January 1 have seen higher employment growth since then than the states that kept theirs at the same rate.
The minimum wage went up in 13 states — Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington — either thanks to automatic increases in line with inflation or new legislation, as Ben Wolcott reports in his analysis at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The average change in employment for those states over the first five months of the year as compared with the last five of 2013 is .99 percent, while the average for all remaining states is .68 percent.
Digging deeper, all but one of those states are experiencing increases in employment, and nine of them have seen growth above the median rate.
CREDIT: Center for Economic and Policy Research
Wolcott’s analysis builds on a previous one from Goldman Sachs, which did the same evaluation for just January and compares it to December of last year. It found that the states that had minimum wage increases experienced faster job growth than those without a raise.
This doesn’t mean that increasing the minimum wage necessarily creates more jobs. “While this kind of simple exercise can’t establish causality, it does provide evidence against theoretical negative employment effects of minimum-wage increases,” Wolcott writes. Indeed, it adds to the evidence that higher minimum wages may not hurt job growth as much as some have warned. Washington has the highest minimum wage and saw the biggest increase in small business jobs last year. Its job growth has also remained steady and above average in the 15 years since it raised its wage. When economists studied state-level minimum wage increases over two decades they didn’t find any conclusive evidence that the raises impacted job creation.
That’s all good news for the ten states that have increased their minimum wages this year. Massachusetts went the furthest, raising its wage to $11 by 2017, but three — Hawaii, Maryland, and Connecticut — passed the $10.10 minimum wage being pushed at the federal level by Democrats and Vermont increased its wage to $10.50. And some cities have gone even further, with Seattle enacting a $15 minimum wage.
Progress in raising the entire country’s minimum wage has stalled, though. Republicans blocked a bill that would have increased it to $10.10 an hour.