As part of a larger set of projects exploring local minimum wage laws, my Minimum Wage Study team at the University of Washington put out a report examining employer and worker perspectives at baseline. There are several interesting findings, even as we just are learning of the broader impact and consequences.
As the income inequality discussion continues to simmer across the country, municipal minimum wage ordinances have become hot topics of conversation in many cities. In January 2016, Seattle will implement its second step-up in the local minimum wage in 9 months, reaching $13 for many employers in the city and edging closer to a $15 an hour minimum that will apply to most firms by 2019. San Francisco will reach a $15 an hour minimum by July 2018. Yet cities as diverse as Birmingham, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Louisville have enacted or proposed similar minimum wage laws. It is too early to discern true impact of these local wage ordinances, but speculation abounds regarding whether or how the higher wage will affect firms and the earnings of low-wage workers.
My 2009 book, “Out of Reach,” examined why it can be hard for poor families to get help from the safety net. One critical barrier is the lack of information about local program resources and nonprofit social service organizations. Good information is key to finding help, but it’s also important if we are to target resources effectively and assess if program investments were successful.
In this Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) at the University of Wisconsin webinar, Alex Murphy from the University of Michigan and I discuss the changing geography of poverty in the US.