According to a recent report by the private payroll firm Automatic Data Processing (ADP), the state of Washington received the highest score in the nation on wage and job growth in the fourth quarter of 2015. The state's outstanding performance runs counter to the doom-and-gloom scenarios pushed by right-wing media about the supposed side effects of elevated minimum wages.
On February 15, The Seattle Times reported that Washington was "far outpacing" other states in job and wage growth for the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the most recent ADP Workforce Vitality Report. ADP gave Washington a job and wage growth score of 117.9 on its Workforce Vitality Index, besting the average national score by over 11 points. The index looks at “key labor market indicators, such as employment growth, job turnover, wage growth and hours worked.” From The Seattle Times:
“Washington is really overperforming on employment growth,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, head of research for ADP, a payroll services company.
Nationwide, employment and wages both increased by 2.1 percent year-over-year during the fourth/ quarter of 2015.
In Washington, however, employment climbed by 3.7 percent. Much of that came from hiring in construction, information technology, professional services, and leisure and hospitality industries.
In sectors such as in retail and hospitality, some employers in the region are raising wages for managers in response to recent minimum-wage bumps in Seattle and SeaTac, said Sage Wilson, spokesperson for Working Washington, an advocacy organization.
Anecdotally, Wilson has heard of employers outside of those cities finding that they must match higher wages to compete for employees. The minimum-wage increases, however, are relatively new and could take years before they significantly impact statewide data.
The state of Washington already has the highest statewide minimum wage in the country -- $9.47 per hour -- and, as The Seattle Times alluded to, the cities of Seattle and SeaTac are in the process of phasing in the highest municipal minimum wages in the country -- $15 per hour. While The Seattle Times reported that it “could take years” before municipal minimum wage increases “significantly impact statewide data” the ADP report undermines right-wing media claims that minimum wage increases are already hurting employers, workers, and local economies.
Conservative media smears against Seattle's minimum wage increase started soon after the city approved an ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15 over the course of a three- to seven-year period. In July 2015, Fox News' Dan Springer falsely claimed that Seattle was facing “unintended consequences” from the wage increase, with some low-income workers attempting to game the system so as to remain eligible for welfare benefits. In August, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) used cherry-picked data to claim Seattle's minimum wage increase “has started having a negative effect on restaurant jobs.” Fox Business host Stuart Varney echoed AEI's sentiment a month later on his show, weeks after the specific job loss claim had been debunked. Other right-wing outlets, including The Daily Caller and Investor's Business Daily, have combed through municipal jobs data in Seattle to exaggerate alleged side effects of the minimum wage.
Right-wing media are staunchly opposed to increasing the minimum wage and dedicated to promoting the myth that wage increases result in job losses, despite a wealth of evidence showing that minimum wage increases have a negligible effect on employment.