Minimally Critical

Below is a letter to Ben Zipper and John Schmidt of the Economic Policy Institute:

Dear Sirs,

In your June 26th report on the University of Washington’s minimum wage working paper on Seattle, you claim:

One initial indicator of these problems is that the estimated employment losses in the Seattle study lie far outside even those generally suggested by mainstream critics of the minimum wage (see, for example, Neumark and Wascher [2008])—as the authors themselves acknowledge.

With respect, sirs, this is a rather weak criticism.  In fact, it’s logical that the results of the study are outside the norm given that the Seattle wage hike itself is outside the norm; it’s an unusually strong hike.  Given that the wage hike is higher than previous studies, it’d signal to me methodological or empirical issues if the results weren’t outside the typical range.

In short, your criticism amounts to saying “it cannot be true slamming on the breaks causes an abrupt stop because tapping the brakes causes just a slight deceleration!”

Sincerely,

Jon Murphy
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA

Update: an eagle-eyed reader caught a spelling error.  It has been fixed