New Research: Greatest Low-Wage Earnings Gains Came In States That Raised The Minimum Wage

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s (MassBudget) annual Labor Day report found that states that raised the minimum wage saw stronger low-wage earnings gains than states that did not raise wages, undermining a common right-wing media myth that higher wages actually reduce worker earnings.

MassBudget published its findings on how the minimum wage affects earnings in its 2016 State of Working Massachusetts report, published September 5. The study largely focused on a 7 percent increase in wage growth that low-wage Massachusetts workers experienced from 2014 to 2015 after the state enacted a minimum wage increase. The report also found that low-wage earnings growth was strongest nationwide in states that raised their minimum wages. According to the MassBudget report, women saw relatively greater income gains at the state level than men over the past year, and that may be related to the fact that women make up nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage workers and are disproportionately affected by wage increases. From the 2016 State of Working Massachusetts:

Massachusetts is accompanied by a handful of states such as California, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and others that have passed legislation in the past two years that would increase their minimum wage. In 2015, low-wage workers in our Commonwealth and in other states with recent minimum wage increases have seen real wage growth. The chart below shows that the growth in wages for the bottom 10th percentile of earners was fastest in states with legislated increases (versus minimum wage increases through indexing to inflation or no increase at all).

MassBudget’s report stands in contrast to misinformation about the minimum wage frequently promoted by right-wing media. Conservative outlets often claim that raising the wage will actually hurt workers by killing jobs and harming businesses, despite all evidence to the contrary. New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie actually cited a number of these debunked right-wing media myths during an August 30 press conference announcing his decision to veto a minimum wage increase in New Jersey.

Right-wing media have a long history of attacking the minimum wage, despite a wealth of evidence showing that minimum wage increases have a negligible effect on employment.