Throughout the minimum wage debate, industry lobbyists, affiliated think thanks, apologists for inequality, and other self-appointed experts repeatedly insisted that they had expert insight into the consequences of a $15 wage in Seattle. A year later, their predictions have turned out about as well as any other Chicken Little.
Howard Schultz of Starbucks
Peter Nickerson of Seattle University
Christopher Frizzelle of The Stranger
4/3/2014: "If we don’t listen to small business owners about minimum wage, “the big banks, the big chains, they are going to have the run of this city—even more so than they do now, and they already do now.” (He also suggested Seattle might become a city of Cheesecake Factories.)
Today: the big chains have taken legal action to try and block the law. Meanwhile, dozens of new restaurant openings are in the works, many of them local independent operations, and none of them Cheesecake Factories.
Seattle Times Editorial Board
4/19/2014: With talk of a jump to a $15 minimum wage, Seattle is barreling headlong into a serious gamble with its local economy.”
Today: Seattle remains one of the fastest-growing large cities in the country.
Tim Worstall of Forbes
6/3/2014: It’s not difficult to outline some of the effect that this new $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle is going to have. …For my prediction is that the effects are not going to be good and it would be rather useful in future to have the evidence that large rises in the minimum wage really aren’t a good thing.…The first and most obvious effect of a $15 an hour minimum is that there are going to be job losses.
Today: Seattle’s economic boom is so strong it’s “one for the history books.”
Michael Saltsman of the restaurant industry funded Employment Policies Institute
6/30/2014: “Perhaps most concerning about the $15 proposal is that some businesses anticipated going beyond an increase in prices or a reduction in staffing levels. More than 43 percent of respondents said it was “very likely” they would limit future expansion in Seattle in response to the law. One in seven respondents is even “very likely” to close a current location in the city limits. Seattle is the first city in the country to pass a $15 minimum wage. Our survey suggests it will now be the first city to find out why that’s a bad idea."
Today: there are substantially more businesses operating in the city than last year.