What I Would Have Said to the Seattle City Council About a $15 Minimum Wage

What I Would Have Said to the Seattle City Council About a $15 Minimum Wage

What I Would Have Said to the Seattle City Council About a $15 Minimum Wage

Last night, the Seattle City Council held a town hall meeting at Rainier Beach High School to allow concerned citizens and business owners to express their views on the Mayor’s $15 minimum wage plan. Hundreds turned out to give express their views in two minutes or less. Unfortunately, as #141 on the speaker list, I did not get to speak before the end of the meeting at 9:30pm. The following is what I would have said to the City Council if given the chance:

While there may be significant disagreement about a $15 minimum wage, one thing everybody agrees on is that such an increase would be unprecedented. 

But contrary to what some activists believe, dramatically increasing the minimum wage is not a cost-free proposition, as recent events and research have made painfully clear.

In February, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that a $10.10 national minimum wage would eliminate half-a-million jobs. 

In March, it was reported that several fast food outlets operating on U.S. military facilities, including the McDonald’s at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, had closed due to President Obama’s recent executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractor’s to $10.10 an hour. Navy officials call the closures only “the tip of the iceberg” and estimate that the wage hike will shutter hundreds of food outlets and eliminate thousands of jobs in the Navy exchange system alone.

In April, Seattle economist Peter Nickerson released an independent study estimating that a $15 minimum wage would eliminate as many as 19,000 low-wage Seattle jobs. 

And on May 1st of this month, the same day Mayor Murray released his $15 minimum wage proposal, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported that Australia’s Commission of Audit recommended freezing hikes in that country’s high minimum wage, currently about $16 an hour, because it is pricing low-skilled and inexperienced workers out of the labor market.

Even many advocates of higher wages have deep reservations about $15 an hour. 

If passed in its current form, the Mayor’s four-tiered proposal would not only be the country’s highest minimum wage, but also the most complicated wage regulatory regime in the nation.

Concerns about a dramatic increase in the minimum wage are well-founded in solid research and practical experience. I hope the Council takes such research into account as it continues its deliberations.

Check out my testimony at the last Seattle minimum wage town hall meeting below:

Director of Research and Government Affairs
As the Freedom Foundation’s Director of Research and Government Affairs, Maxford Nelsen leads the team working to advance the Freedom Foundation’s mission through strategic research, public policy advocacy, and labor relations. Max regularly testifies on labor issues before legislative bodies and his research has formed the basis of several briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Max’s work has been published in local newspapers around the country and in national outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, National Review, and the American Spectator. His work on labor policy issues has been featured in media outlets like the New York Times, Fox News, and PBS News Hour. He is a frequent guest on local radio stations like 770 KTTH and 570 KVI. From 2019-21, Max was a presidential appointee to the Federal Service Impasses Panel within the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which resolves contract negotiation disputes between federal agencies and labor unions. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation in 2013, Max worked for WashingtonVotes.org and the Washington Policy Center and interned with the Heritage Foundation. Max holds a labor relations certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated magna cum laude from Whitworth University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. A Washington native, he lives in Olympia with his wife and sons.