When workers organized, rallied, and went on strike to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 per hour, we heard that tired old opposition argument again...and again...and again. It sounded something like “If we raise the minimum wage it’s going to hurt consumers by raising Seattle prices to sky high, unaffordable levels! Just you wait!” In fact, 62% of employers stated at the time they planned to raise the prices at their own businesses. But in reality — spoiler alert — no price increase has been detected.
As always, this was the far right attempting to scare people into thinking the sky was falling, to no avail. Just like when the same business owners stated sick days would force them to lay off employees (nope), or getting rid of plastic bags would spread disease (nuh-uh); it was just another flimsy distraction. This time they tried to distract people by suggesting employers would unnecessarily raise prices in retaliation for the rise in wages. Now, one year later, UW has completed the most comprehensive study yet on the subject which states:
“Our preliminary analysis of grocery, retail and rent prices has found little or no evidence of price increases in Seattle relative to the surrounding area”
What does that mean? For starters, it means that when 62% of business owners stated that they would raise prices, they didn't. Secondly, it means that when opponents of our upcoming Raise Up Washington ballot initiative for a higher statewide minimum wage sell the fable that prices all across the state will go up, guess what? That’s untrue too. This study gives us even more proof of what we all know: businesses can afford to pay their workers more, and this benefits the economy by giving people money to spend.
So, as we move toward our next victory in securing a higher statewide minimum wage at the ballot, and you hear big business lobbyists dust off that old, sad tall tale about how the state’s employers will have no choice but to raise prices and shutter their businesses if they’re forced to *gasp* pay their workers a living wage, remember the truth is here.
And while you’re at it feel free to donate to Working Washington here since, you know, we comb through dense, chart-filled studies to hand pick the best information for you. That deserves a pat on the back.