Vox: A $15 federal minimum wage won’t cost Americans jobs, new study says

Vox, July 2, 2019: A $15 federal minimum wage won’t cost Americans jobs, new study says

The first study analyzing the effects of a $15 federal minimum wage is out: Its impact on inequality could be huge — while its impact on job loss is likely small to none.

More importantly, doubling the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 would also likely boost incomes for the poorest households in rural counties, according to a white paper released Tuesday by economists Anna Godoey and Michael Reich at the University of California Berkeley. They found no evidence that such a large wage hike would lead to significant job losses or fewer work opportunities — something big business groups often warn about.

As Congress prepares to vote on a bill to gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour, the study sheds light on how far such a policy change could go to shrink income inequality in some of America’s poorest regions. For example, in Alabama, minimum wage workers currently earn about 45 cents for every dollar earned by a median wage worker. If the federal pay floor were to double, that gap would shrink to 77 cents for every dollar, the study says. The change would also shrink income inequality in states that already have smaller pay gaps, such as California.

A single study is hardly definitive, but this latest report adds to a growing body of research that is challenging long-held assumptions about the impact of raising the minimum wage: specifically, the view that it would hurt workers more than it would help them.

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