Las Vegas Review-Journal Recites Right-Wing Mythology About Minimum Wage, Teen Unemployment

A Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial criticized a voter initiative gaining traction -- to place an increased minimum wage on Nevada's 2016 ballot -- by leaning on bogus right-wing information from a fast food industry-backed front group.

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Raising Minimum Wage Increases Teen Unemployment

LVRJ: Increasing The Minimum Wage Will Increase Teen Unemployment. A February 7, 2016, Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial criticized a recent Nevada voter initiative to place minimum wage increases on the 2016 general election ballot, calling it “the worst thing Nevada could do for young people seeking work” :

The youth unemployment rate in Nevada, for workers age 16-24, was 13.1 percent in the most recent 12-month rolling average, according to statistics from the Nevada Department of Employment. That's more than double the state's standard unemployment rate of 6.4 percent. Further, Nevada's teen unemployment -- for 16- to 19-year-olds -- is a whopping 20.6 percent, according to the Employment Policies Institute's MinimumWage.com tracker.

About the worst thing Nevada could do for young people seeking work is increase the minimum wage. But that's exactly what could happen this November.

As reported by the Review-Journal's Sandra Chereb on Jan. 20, a state judge rejected arguments challenging language in a proposed constitutional amendment to gradually raise Nevada's minimum wage to $13 an hour. That means supporters of the measure can begin gathering signatures, aiming to get about 55,000 by mid-July in order to get the initiative on the ballot. If approved, it would have to pass again in 2018 to amend the constitution.

It shouldn't get that far, unless the state wants to see those youth/teen unemployment numbers worsen. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 2/7/16]

A Minimum Wage Increase Would Have Minimal Effects On Teenage Workers

BLS: Most Minimum Wage Workers Are Older Than 25. A study released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in April 2015 found that almost half of minimum wage workers (51.8 percent) are older than 25. Only 21.4 percent are 16 to 19 years old. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2015]

U.S. Department of Labor: 89 Percent Of People Who Would Benefit From Wage Increases Are 20 Or Older. A Department of Labor minimum wage fact sheet notes, “The typical minimum wage worker is not a high school student earning weekend pocket money,” but instead is usually “age 20 or older.” [Department of Labor, accessed 2/8/16]

IRLE: Minimum Wage Has Minimal Effects On Teen Employment. An April 2011 report by University of California-Berkeley's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) studied the effects of minimum wage increases on teen employment over a 29-year period, including “controls for long-term growth differences,” and found that “minimum wage increases -- in the range that have been implemented in the United States -- do not reduce employment among teens.”  [Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, April 2011]  

Meta-Study Of 64 Minimum Wage Studies Found No Effect Of Minimum Wage Increase On Teen Employment. A February 26, 2013, blog post by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) positively highlighted a “meta-study of 64 studies of the effects of the minimum wage on teenage employment in the United States.” The researchers found that there was little effect, positive or negative, on teen employment following a minimum wage increase:

In a 2009 paper in the peer-reviewed, British Journal of Industrial Relations, Hristos Doucouliagos and T.D. Stanley report the results of their meta-study of 64 studies of the effects of the minimum wage on teenage employment in the United States. The chart below, taken from their paper, presents their key finding. The estimated employment effects, which are displayed along the x-axis, include both negative and positive values. Following standard statistical procedures, however, the researchers have also weighted each estimate by its statistical precision, which is measured on the y-axis. The higher up an estimate lies, the more precise it is.

Min Wage Effects

What is most striking about the chart is that all of the most precise estimates are at or very close to zero -- the point where the minimum wage has no effect on teen employment. [CEPR, 2/26/13; British Journal of Industrial Relations, June 2009]

LVRJ Cites Discredited Lobbyist Think Tank Without Disclosing Industry Ties

MinimumWage.com Is “A Project Of The Employment Policies Institute.” Teen unemployment data cited in  the Las Vegas Review-Journal comes from MinimumWage.com, which is operated by the Employment Policies Institute. [MinimumWage.com, accessed 2/8/16]

New York Times Uses Employment Policies Institute To Illustrate Industry Ties To Minimum Wage Issues. On February 9, 2014, The New York Times published an article about the Employment Policies Institute, writing that the organization is “run by a public relations firm that also represents the restaurant industry” and is funded by conservative donors:

Just four blocks from the White House is the headquarters of the Employment Policies Institute, a widely quoted economic research center whose academic reports have repeatedly warned that increasing the minimum wage could be harmful, increasing poverty and unemployment.

But something fundamental goes unsaid in the institute's reports: The nonprofit group is run by a public relations firm that also represents the restaurant industry, as part of a tightly coordinated effort to defeat the minimum wage increase that the White House and Democrats in Congress have pushed for.

[...]

Disclosure reports filed by individual foundations show that its donors in recent years have included the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a longtime supporter of conservative causes. Mr. Berman and Mr. Saltsman would not identify other donors, but did say they included the restaurant industry. But its tax return shows that the $2.4 million in listed donations received in 2012 came from only 11 contributors, who wrote checks for as much as $500,000 apiece. [New York Times, 2/9/14]

Las Vegas Review-Journal Has A Record Of Peddling Right-Wing Minimum Wage Mythology

LVRJ Has Consistently Failed To Disclose Employment Policies Institute's Industry Ties. On August 30, 2015, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published an op-ed by Employment Policies Institute research director Michael Saltsman titled “Minimum wage hike means fewer jobs,” but failed to disclose Employment Policies Institute's link to the restaurant industry. [Media Matters, 8/30/15]

In 2014, LVRJ Misleadingly Attacked A Separate Proposal To Raise The Minimum Wage. The Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board published a similar editorial when a separate wage increase initiative was proposed in January 2014, highlighting the debunked argument that a minimum wage increase would hurt job growth. [Media Matters, 1/13/14]

The LVRJ Has Misleadingly Claimed That Minimum Wage Jobs Are Designed For Teenagers. On August 4, 2013, the Las Vegas Review-Journal argued that minimum wage jobs -- such as fast-food or retail positions -- are usually held by inexperienced teenagers, despite research that showed more than half of minimum wage workers are over the age of 25. [Media Matters, 8/5/13]