Would raising the minimum wage in Washington help the poor? Would it hurt business and increase unemployment? Neither? Both?
Back in January, we took on that question, and came to the frustrating conclusion that the evidence was by no means clear. In fact, it’s a long, long running debate among economists.
Afterward, a Congressional Budget Office report examined the issue, and determined that an increase of the national minimum wage to $10.10 could cost the country about 500,000 jobs but would move 900,000 people above the poverty level.
But tonight at Gonzaga’s Wolff Auditorium in the Jepson Building from from 7:00-8:45 pm, the proposition will be debated by some big names. It’s put on by the Washington Policy Center, a conservative think-tank that clearly opposes the minimum wage, but has included some heavy hitters on both sides.
KREM anchor Nadine Woodward will be asking the questions, and panelists include:
On the probably-against-an-increase side
Steve Moore with the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board. Here he is, according to the blog of the conservative Heritage foundation, “demolishing the argument for a higher minimum wage.”
Kevin Parker, a Republican politician and local Dutch Bros owner, who has received some praise even from liberals for his efforts to help those in poverty. Yet Parker isn’t a fan of a minimum wage increase.
"We had an employee that works with us," Parker told us back in January. "She was a single mom, she was coming out of three or four generations of poverty, raising a kid all by herself. She wants to go to Stanford." But Parker noted that if he had to pay everyone a higher minimum wage, he couldn't afford to pay her as much as he wanted.
Eric Fruits, from Portland State University. He studied Oregon and Washington specifically and found that Washington and Oregon’s automatic increases in the minimum wage reduced employment, especially for young people.
On the probably-for-an-increase side
Timm Ormsby: A Spokane Democratic state rep who, with a few of his colleagues, cheekily proposed a bill last year to give a “training wage” – only 75 percent of their salary – for legislators the first two years in office. It was a clear parody of a Senate Republican bill to apply a lower minimum wage to workers for their first 680 hours
T. William Lester of the University of North Carolina. He was a co-author on a research study that found that, when they compared county-pairs with big minimum-wage disparities (Spokane and Kootenai are one example) they found no adverse negative effects to a higher minimum wage.