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STUDY: Minimum Wage Hike Killed Jobs, Hours in Seattle

When the minimum wage was increased to $13 per hour in Seattle, the city’s lowest paid workers saw jobs disappear and hours scaled back.

Fight for 15

Researchers at the University of Washington issued a study Monday that argued a minimum wage hike in Seattle has resulted in a decline in jobs and hours for workers.

The minimum wage in Seattle increased from $9.47 to $11 in April 2015. Then in January 2016, the city raised the minimum wage again to $13 an hour. That second increase is when low wage workers started seeing negative effects:

Low-wage workers in Seattle — people earning less than $19 an hour — saw their hours decrease by about 9% from 2014 to 2016, compared with the surrounding control area, the study found. The number of low-wage jobs overall declined by nearly 7% relative to the control group.

Seattle’s minimum wage law is unique in that it treats businesses differently based on their size. Franchises, like individual McDonald’s restaurants, are counted as “large businesses and subject to higher rates,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Seattle’s issues could spell trouble for larger cities like Los Angeles, too:

In Seattle, the average hourly wage is about $36, compared with $28 in Los Angeles, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“A high minimum wage in Los Angeles is likely to do more harm because you have more minority, low-pay, low-skill workers,” said David Neumark, an economist at UC Irvine.

Another group in the “loser” column, according to the LA Times, is first-time job-seekers:

“If you are someone trying to break into the labor market, get your first job, a young person or immigrant, that’s where it really seems like it’s become more difficult,” [study co-author Jacob] Vigdor said.