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The Minimum Wage Study

The Minimum Wage Study is a research effort dedicated to providing rigorous analysis of the impact of minimum wage ordinances in metropolitan regions and states.  We seek to provide insights that will be useful for policymakers and scholars. As more states and localities move forward with plans to raise the minimum wage, this research will infuse the debate with data on the effects on workers, households, employers, and the local economy.  We focus our analysis on the impacts of the recently passed ordinance in Seattle.

For an overview of the project components of the minimum wage study please click here

Publications and Working Papers

  • Economic Development Quarterly. “How Do Immigrant-Owned Firms Respond to Minimum Wage Increases? Evidence from Seattle.”
  • Economic Inquiry: “Seattle’s Local Minimum Wage and Earnings Inequality.”
  • American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: “Minimum Wage Increases and Low-Wage Employment: Evidence from Seattle.”
  • Social Service Review: “The Initial Nonprofit Exposure and Response to Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance.”
  • Translational Behavioral Medicine: “Low-income Workers’ Perceptions of Wages, Food Acquisition, and Well-being.”
  • Upjohn Institute for Employment Research: “Payroll, Revenue, and Labor Demand Effects of the Minimum Wage.” Upjohn Institute Working Paper 19-298.
  • International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: “The Impact of a City-Level Minimum Wage Policy on Supermarket Food Prices by Food Quality Metrics: A Two-Year Follow Up Study.”
  • Urban Affairs Review: “Employer Responses to a City-Level Minimum Wage Mandate: Early Evidence from Seattle.”
  • National Bureau of Economic Research: Minimum Wage Increases and Individual Employment Trajectories, 2018.
  • Public Health Nutrition: Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance did not affect supermarket food prices by food processing category
  • Social Work: “Is Raising the Minimum Wage a Good Idea? Evidence and Implications for Social Work.”
  • City of Seattle: “Report on Employer Adjustments, Worker Experiences, and Price Changes.”
  • Child Development Perspectives: How Will Higher Minimum Wages Affect Family Life and Children’s Well-Being?
  • International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: The Impact of a City-Level Minimum-Wage Policy on Supermarket Food Prices in Seattle-King County, 2017.
  • National Bureau of Economic Research: Minimum Wage Increases, Wages, and Low-Wage Employment: Evidence from Seattle, 2017.
  • City of Seattle: Report on Nonprofit Response to Minimum Wage , 2017.
  • City of Seattle: Report on the Impact of Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance on Wages, Workers, Jobs & Establishments Through 2015, 2016.
  • City of Seattle: Report on Baseline Employer Survey and Worker Interviews, 2016.

Legislative Testimony

  • U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget – Thursday, February 25, 2021 – Professor Jacob Vigdor
    • Professor Vigdor’s Written Testimony
    • Committee Hearing: Video

Popular Writing

  • Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program: How a rising minimum wage may impact the nonprofit sector
  • Seattle Times: Lessons from Seattle’s courageous minimum-wage experiment
  • New York Daily News: About that raise: Take it from Seattle, a $13 minimum wage won’t necessarily boost pay
  • Seattle Times: Follow the pho: An update on Seattle’s minimum-wage impact
  • Seattle Times: Digging into data to find impact of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage

Seattle’s Minimum Wage

In January 2014, Mayor Ed Murray formed an Income Inequality Advisory Committee to address the growing public call for a meaningful increase in the compensation for Seattle workers. This committee included representatives from Seattle City Council, local businesses, unions, and the Chamber of Commerce. After the committee reached an agreement on a recommendation, it was proposed as a plan by the Mayor, and then passed as legislation by the Seattle City Council. The minimum wage ordinance (Ordinance 124490), which when approved was the highest minimum wage in the country, provides for an increase in the minimum wage in the City of Seattle to $15 an hour, phased on over time. The rate at which it increases depends on the size of the company, and whether or not they pay toward their employee’s medical benefits plan.

In December 2014, after issuing a public request for proposals, the City of Seattle contracted with our team to conduct this evaluation.

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