The poetry of the Seattle Times editorial board on minimum wage

For almost three years now, the Seattle Times editorial board has been writing basically the same editorial about the $15 laws in SeaTac & Seattle. (Sometimes individual editorial writers publish their own similar pieces, and then are the guest op-eds too.) Today was the latest in the series, but it's nothing new. 

Here's the pattern: time after time the Editorial Board expresses utter confidence that bad things will surely happen if wages increase. Then the negative impacts don't arrive, but it's because... it's just a matter of not enough time yet. And then the next time around... the final moment of reckoning still hasn't arrived... it just get further delayed until after the next editorial. 

It's like Henny Penny put on repeat. (It's also like they don't read the actual quality reporting on these same issues that appears in their own newspaper.)

They sure were confident Sea-Tac would be a rusted hulk by now and Seattle an economic wasteland. Instead: new hotels & record traffic at the airport, and record business license numbers in Seattle. Maybe eventually they'll admit they were wrong?

Without further comment, we present the past 30 months or so of the Seattle Times editorial board on wages. The titles alone almost make a poem:

Editorial: No on SeaTac Prop. 1 for a $15 minimum wage

forget about anyone building another hotel in the city of SeaTac.

Editorial: Watch SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage experiment

This page opposed the $15 wage because of the possible economic and social effects, particularly on new immigrants and first-time workers. The advocates pooh-poohed these fears and said the effects would be good.

Let’s find out. SeaTac has just volunteered to conduct an economic experiment on itself.…

Will investors stop building hotels in SeaTac? Will airlines change operations to avoid higher labor costs here?…Caution is warranted. It is easier to mess things up than to make them better.

Editorial: Try the $15 wage in SeaTac before imposing it in Seattle 

The passage of SeaTac Proposition 1 gives that city a minimum wage for some workers 61 percent higher than the $9.32 minimum around it. “That is a pretty dramatic change and could have some significant impacts,” McIntire said recently. “I would counsel the folks in Seattle to see how it goes in SeaTac.”

Editorial: Priorities for Seattle and Mayor Ed Murray after inauguration day

Some attention is focused on a $15 minimum wage, but Mayor Ed Murray and the nine Seattle City Council members should not rush into any decisions that could undercut the economy’s resurgence. 

Editorial: Let companies set lower minimum wage for more teens

Washington should consider reducing the minimum wage for 16- and 17-year-olds… If it doesn’t work, then scrap it. But it’s probably worth a try.

Editorial: Don’t use brute force to handle a Seattle minimum-wage increase

The intent here should be to parse the consequences, intended and unintended. Smart economic policies are a means to an end: What would Seattle actually be buying with a $15 minimum wage?

Editorial: In $15 minimum wage debate, compromise for a teen wage

Seattle is about to take off on a flight unfathomable just a year ago.

Editorial: Seattle needs a minimum-wage increase, but implementation matters

Based on economic studies, a compelling case has been made that the current $9.32 hourly minimum wage could rise to, or even slightly above $10.74 — San Francisco’s top-in-the-nation rate — without harming the local economy. But the higher it goes beyond historic precedent, the higher the risk.

Editorial: Seattle needs to ease up on the rush to a $15 minimum wage

The $15 figure is an unproven number, no more or less defendable than $13.48, which respected local economist Dick Conway has suggested.… Significantly, no other local city is proposing such a broad wage hike. They’re waiting to see how far Seattle jumps in this risky experiment, and if it can stick the landing.

Editorial: An economic gamble in Seattle as $15 minimum wage becomes reality

Until Thursday, the $15 minimum-wage debate was a thought exercise, a set of “what-if” games leading to sometimes fantastical predictions that supported or undermined arguments for Seattle to require the nation’s highest wage floor.

The rhetoric was untethered from reality. … 

But don’t let the rhetoric of the minimum-wage debate obscure this fact: Seattle is gambling with its economy.

Editorial: Redefine franchises under Seattle’s minimum-wage proposal

“What’s happening in Seattle is unprecedented,” said Gary Duvall, a Seattle business attorney who represents franchises. He said franchises would “absolutely” sue Seattle if the definition of franchises remains as proposed, and the lawsuit, based on precedent elsewhere, is “very likely” to be successful.

Editorial: Seattle’s monitored minimum-wage experiment should be revisited

Despite rosy rhetoric out of City Hall, the new minimum wage is a massive experiment that, in reality, goes far beyond $15. By 2025, Seattle’s inflation-adjusted minimum wage is predicted to be $18, more than $6 above what would be the inflation-adjusted statewide minimum wage. That gap sends a distinct message to fragile and low-margin businesses: hello, Renton.

Experiments should be adjusted as data comes in. Seattle’s leadership must promise the law is not etched in stone.

If the most dire predictions are realized, the City Council must revisit assumptions it used in passing the highest minimum wage in the country, and reopen the law.

Editorial: Seattle’s minimum wage law unfairly discriminates against franchise owners

Seattle’s new minimum-wage law means that all low-paid workers in the city will get a raise. But how they’re raised, and how quickly, could mean life or death to many small businesses.

Editorial: Hold the applause for Seattle’s $15 experiment

Other impacts of the $15 experiment — particularly Seattle’s more gradual rise in the wage floor — are as clear as mud. Despite cheerleading from labor and advocates, it is too early to weigh the ultimate consequences of a huge increase that won’t fully take effect in Seattle until 2019. … Cheers for the airport workers and their raises. But hold the Champagne until the ripple effects of $15 are actually felt.

Editorial: Minimum-wage law: This is not play money

Data are particularly important with the tidal wave of momentum toward a higher minimum wage nationally, and a voter initiative calling for a phased-in $13.50 minimum wage statewide that might be on the November ballot. We need to know the broad economic trade-offs of a higher minimum wage. Seattle is a great case study. …

In the case of $15, the jury is still out.