A gradual phase-in to raise Seattle's minimum wage to $15 an hour has had little effect so far on either workers or businesses, a new study finds.
The University of Washington study suggests the increases enacted so far have had little impact in part because the local economy has strengthened and because businesses have responded to wage increases by cutting hours, the Fiscal Times reports.
The researchers found that, under the first phase of the new law the typical "low wage worker" in Seattle – one of the first cities in the nation to enact an increased minimum wage law — saw their salary increase from $9.96 per hour to $11.14 per hour by the end of 2015, FT reports.
The FT reports while some of the increase is due to the minimum wage increase, most is due to the strength of the region’s economy, which benefitted from expansion in the tech sector, a construction boom and a job growth rate three times the national average from mid-2014 to late 2015.
Overall, the study noted that Seattle’s low-wage workers took home $13 more per week as a result of the minimum wage increases, but worked 15 minutes less.
It also found the increase led to a 0.7 percent increase in business closures, but was offset by increases in business openings due to the strengthened economy.
University of Washington researcher Jake Vigdor tells the Christian Science Monitor the study shows conditions in Seattle were neither as bad as opponents nor as good as proponents suggested they were going to be.
"What I want to see happen is, we can kind of move away from an argument that is pitting people who say the minimum wage never harms anyone against people who say the minimum wage never helps anyone, to a dialogue that says there is some combination of these things happening," he tells the Monitor.
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