Home / General / $10.10



Glad to see Maryland following Connecticut in creating a $10.10 minimum wage. That’s still too low but it’s a nice jump. It also continues to build a real red state-blue state divide in wages and I wonder how big that gap will become.

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  • Malaclypse

    MA is likely to do either 10.50 or 11.00, over 3 years, fairly soon.

    • And isn’t Washington also talking about a raise to put them over $10/hour?

      • Linnaeus

        The governor would like to raise our state’s minimum wage (currently $9.32 an hour) another $1.50 – $2.50 or so, but that will be hard to get passed by the state senate, which is currently controlled by a “coalition” of Republicans and two Democrats who decided to caucus with them. You might local minimum wage hikes: there’s a movement to raise it in Seattle to $15/hr and some workers in neighboring SeaTac got a raise to $15/hr, though a judge’s ruling narrowed the scope of workers to which that raise applies.

  • High minimum wages and, possibly, unionized football players. In sectional politics of North and South, will Southerners be consistent and let the Northern states do this as a way to “heighten the contradictions?”

    Nah, they only like “states rights” when it gives an advantage to reactionary white Southerners.

    • WhiteWatch

      Nah, they only like “states rights” when it gives an advantage to reactionary white Southerners.

      Well…that didn’t take long!!

    • As Scott says, “nobody cares about federalism”.


      I wouldn’t go quite that far– I care about it a little. (For instance, a lot of the “vice and sin” issues, like recreational drugs and sex work, seem to me to be perfectly fine to leave to the states and allow variation.) But it’s definitely nobody’s primary motivation in politics.

      Having said that, we probably are moving towards a sort of de facto federalism when it comes to minimum wage policies. I wonder if it will ever get to the point where workers start migrating to states with higher wages in significant numbers.

      • ahurazo

        I have a hard time even leaving that much to the states, since I’m pretty sure that Republican-run locales are going to find ever more creative ways to legislate the “vice and sin” issues in such a way as to throw millions of black people in jail to no social benefit.

        • The thing is, that’s true of just about any law. Racist cops also (famously) enforce traffic laws disproportionately against black people. At some point, we need to get serious about getting racists and bullies out of police departments, which takes real work (as often it’s racists and bullies who want to become cops in the first place).

          The case for leaving certain sorts of public morals offenses to states and localities is that there really are differences in community standards. One example that is actually written into the Constitution is alcohol prohibition; we still have “dry” counties. It seems to me that this is a perfect subject for local regulation– people in rural Oklahoma shouldn’t be able to stop folks in New York from drinking, and folks in New York shouldn’t be able to force people in rural Oklahoma to bear costs of liberal alcohol laws.

  • Sharculese

    Before one of our resident trolls shows up to claim that businesses are fleeing socialist hellholes like Maryland – the chamber of commerce disagrees: http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2013/05/01/maryland-ranks-first-in-us-for.html

    • Dr Ronnie James, DO

      It might be nice to see the “pool” of cheap labor voting with its feet for once and moving to a living wage location, rather than the all too often seen opposite story of capital abandoning the pool of cheap labor.

      • Another Holocene Human

        “Cheap” labor isn’t cheap–these folks are very dependent on their social networks–people who provide them with rides so they don’t lose their job when the bus breaks down, family members or even lovers who provide free child care, friends and family members who provide loans.

        The economics of min wage mean that they can’t start all over in another town. You need living wages for that.

        And even with higher wage states the unemployment rate is still high, which means that the local pool will sop up these jobs.

        There aren’t a lot of places in the US really drawing people (with exception of some really high skill jobs, but those folks are the favored few) from other states right now. TX was a there a few years ago, ND until recently. But otherwise, meh.

        • DAS

          That low wage earners cannot pick up and move for better jobs seems intuitive to me, however, we do in fact see a lot of low wage earners who do move for jobs (e.g. migrant farm labor). The difference is that such low wage earners (a) leave their families to work and (b) come from places with extremely low (in $ terms) cost of living, so they can send a little bit of money back home, which money (when converted to local currency) goes far enough to support their families (even if only at poverty levels).

          If wage differentials are high enough between parts of the country, will we see intra-national migrant workers moving to higher wage areas and sending money home to lower cost of living areas? If so, will the GOP then blame higher minimum wages for breaking up families?

          • Not just migrant farm laborers, but also migrant historians do this too. :-)

          • Pat

            I don’t think so. Blue states with higher minimum wages also have better services for families, schools and insurance and the like. Many of them also have lousy rent markets. So I think it’s more likely that networks of large Southern families will extend into the blue states.

      • It would be nice if cheap labor – sorry, can we call them people who earn the minimum wage or something?

        It would be nice if poor people had the wherewithal to do so.

  • Anna in PDX

    Oregon went to $9.10 as of January 2014 and I am hoping we’ll raise it again soon.

    • Anna in PDX

      Also we don’t allow tipped positions to pay less. I wish other states did that.

      • DrDick

        I would agree with this.

      • DrS

        It’s real shit, and although the employer is supposed to make up the difference, well yes, they are supposed to.

      • ChrisTS

        God yes. That is based on such a transparent fiction.

    • I read an interesting article recently about Idaho workers crossing the Oregon border for jobs because of the minimum wage, creating a bit of a employee shortage in low wage work there.

      • Anonymous

        How can you have an employee shortage in that situation? Shouldn’t it just be upward wage pressure? How dedicated are companies to paying the minimum wage even if it leaves positions unfilled? It seems like ideology is leaking into business in weird ways.

        • Don’t underestimate greed.

        • Another Holocene Human

          A lot of these more marginal wage businesses have decided labor costs are #1 and would rather go understaffed than worry about turning away custom because they’re understaffed. McD’s franchises are ridiculous this way.

          Opportunity costs don’t show up in your weekly expense reports.

          • Guggenheim Swirly

            Opportunity costs don’t show up in your weekly expense reports.

            Well said indeed.

          • ChrisTS

            Isn’t Wal-Mart famous for understaffing for this bottom-line reasoning?

            • DrDick

              Yep and it is turning around to bite them in the ass. Their sales are dropping markedly because the shelves are not stocked, checkout lines are long, and the stores are dirty.

        • Bowers v. Hardwick

          How dedicated are companies to paying the minimum wage even if it leaves positions unfilled?

          Google “skills gap” and read all about companies that are shocked that, despite offering 12 bucks an hour for experienced machinists, workers “lack the skills.”

          • Another Holocene Human

            This is endemic. The greed is astounding. They really thought a bad recession would let them renegotiate wages downward yet again. They’re furious it did not.

          • Malaclypse

            Also, I blame Scalia for the nymfail.

            • Linnaeus

              Always a safe move.

      • anomomouse

        I personally know of at least two cases of that.

  • David W.

    Minnesota is poised to raise the state minimum wage to $9.50 with indexing, albeit with a few caveats such as giving the governor the power to put future raises on hold for up to a year.

    Minimum wage deal with automatic pay hikes: the horse trading

  • DrDick

    To bring it up to parity with what it was in 1968, it needs to be around $15/hour.

    • ChrisTS

      Thanks DrDick. I was wondering what the ‘it should be higher’ was referencing.

      So…progress, but not enough progress.

  • Manju

    It also continues to build a real red state-blue state divide in wages and I wonder how big that gap will become.

    Does anyone have this data handy? What is the real wage gap…I mean we can’t go by the nominal number, we need to adjust for cost of living.

    I recall a previous post that linked to data indicating that blue states had higher income inequality than red ones.

    In absolute terms, the 99% were still doing better in blue states than they were in red ones, but the difference was small. It was the difference between the respective 1%ers that made the difference.

    At least that’s what I recall. I think Lane Kenworthy has crunched these numbers. I’ll try to dig them up later.

    • Another Holocene Human

      It’s not sheer income inequality, it’s what that income inequality means. There is more redistribution in blue states, more progressive taxation. These kinds of factors are what gives NYS better scores on development indices and lower levels of violent crime than would be expected on the basis of sheer income inequality.

      • Manju

        I’m aware of the adjustments. I wanted to see the state level data presented in such a way by a reliable source.

        I gather Daniel Keuhn may be the point man here…but I haven’t gone thru the links DeLong provides.

        If you have it handy, link me up.

  • James Hare

    It’s a phased increase that doesn’t fully take effect until 2018. The first increase (to $8 an hour) isn’t until January 1, 2015. That is too little too late. By 2018 a $10.10 will be MORE insufficient than it would be today.

    • Yeah, it’s not an ideal bill, but as the 2nd state to pass it, some compromises aren’t surprising. Hopefully, the need for those compromises will grow less as additional states move ahead.

      • James Hare

        I certainly am not asking to make the perfect be the enemy of the good. This bill is certainly better than nothing; however, it’s important to make it clear what the bill does. It does NOTHING to change things for employees in Maryland today or even for the next 6 months. I’m also not sure why we should be settling for half a loaf in states like Maryland where the Democratic party is almost unbeatable. Maryland is far beyond the “more” Democrats stage and should be in the “better” Democrats stage. Setting our sights low in states where we have complete control is just unacceptable. The Republicans push the limits wherever they gain power — even if exercising that power requires parliamentary tricks to get around nearly equal opposition.

        • It’s fine to be unhappy with it. Doesn’t mean it’s not progression, but yeah, keep agitating for higher wages. That’s the way to make them higher–say that $10.10 isn’t enough and the bill is too slow.

        • Yes. And the fact that big business was able to get a really watered down bill in an ultraviolet state tells you how hard this is going to be in states that are less blue.

          In Texas they’ll probably make attempts to raise the minimum wage punishable by death.

          However, I will enjoy watching the usual suspects rend their garments and claim this is the End of Capitalism.

    • JKTHs

      I can see the increase being too slowly phased in or too low but how would it be more insufficient than now? It would be almost 40 percent higher in four years. I can’t think of a metric (inflation, productivity, etc.) that would grow nearly that fast over that period of time.

      • James Hare

        Because $10.10 is insufficient today and 4 years of waiting isn’t going to make it better. I’m sure in certain areas of the state $10.10 an hour might represent a livable wage but it’s completely insufficient in most areas of Montgomery County, Howard County and Prince George’s (those are just the few counties off the top of my head — a large portion of Maryland is fairly high-wage).

  • Anonymous

    Minimum wage destroys job opportunities. If company X plans to pay its entire workforce from a budget it made under old minimum wage laws, and the minimum wage goes up, either they take profit cuts and cough up the extra cash (better odds of getting struck by lightning twice while winning lottery), hire illegals, or lay off current workers and cut production. Plus not every job is worth 10.10 an hour. Especially things that a machine could be doing. If the minimum wage costs more than the running cost of said machine, the machine will be doing that job immediately, if not sooner. K.

    • DrS

      You know, I’ve never seen automation addressed by Erik Loomis, other academics focused on labor nor anyone else who advocates for a higher minimum wage!

      Thanks for bringing this up, I’ll be sure to mention this at the next collective.

    • wengler

      I’m glad only one of your counter-examples involved illegality.

      • JMP

        But it did involve more good old-fashioned racism! Yes, keep calling human beings “illegals”, asshole.

    • L2P

      I bet machines make great pancakes!

    • DrDick

      Oddly enough, history and economic analysis does not agree with you.

  • Anonymous

    You actually end up with a work shortage. Everybody wants to work for a high minimum wage, but not everyone can make money while paying its workers minimum wage. K.

    • Another Holocene Human

      Why don’t you go back and read Adam Smith, you know that book you used to carry around at B-school to look smart? Yeah, you might try reading what he said.

      If people are paid more then more people in the population will be “idle”. Because the wages pay enough to support multiple individuals. And this is good for society as a whole.

    • wengler

      You should’ve just stuck to the line ‘rents will go up’.

      At businesses at the bare edge of survival with 10 or less employees the prospect of a wide ranging group of people suddenly having more income is a great opportunity.

    • Malaclypse

      You actually end up with a work shortage.

      A non-moron might think to compare state minimum wages with state unemployment rates before making an empirical claim like this. Of course, the appeal of libertarianism is never needing to sully theory with observation.

      • DrDick

        Yes, but a non-moron would not be K.

  • Bwaha! Our plan to destroy America with force gay married pot smoking and a nominal boost to the minimum wage proceeds apace.

    • Pat

      Practice your frowns, everyone! Prepare to show mild displeasure!

  • DAS

    What’s the red state/blue state (whenever I type that, I feel like I those would be the opening lines for a Dr. Suess book about politics) divide like on unemployment? If there is more unemployment in red states, even if businesses pack up and leave for cheap labor states, that still injects money into lagging red state economies.

    • wengler

      Here you go. There’s not really any clear conclusions other than North Dakota is going through an oil boom and the more rural and unpopulated you are the lower your unemployment percentage is.

      • DAS

        Thanks for the info wengler and Shakezula. I’d be hard pressed to see any pattern in it. If I didn’t just spend almost an hour with a student confused about what she’s supposed to put in her final lab report, I’d have time to actually do some analyses of these data.

  • Jordan

    While the NJ minimum wage increase we passed last year is still way short of 10.10, it *does* permanently require annual inflation adjustments (only Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Ohio also have this as a constitutional requirement).

    While getting the minimum wage closer to living wage territory is obviously really important (as is eliminating exceptions), preventing its future erosion is also a really, really good thing.

  • Anonymous

    Minimum wage is price fixing. Price fixing sucks like shit. Shit ALWAYS rolls down hill. K.

    • Malaclypse

      Clever to ignore the empirical examples people keep linking to.

    • DrDick

      No, you suck shit. Please get this straight.

  • Anonymous

    The best thing to do would be just to chain minimum wage to inflation. Do it on a federal level and be done with it. Dems wouldn’t be able to push minimum wage hikes to gain support on election years, so you will never see that happen on a federal level unless the republicans did it, and they are about as likely to do that as the Brady campaign is to start donating to the nra. So we have a few states with minimum wages chained to inflation, but dems can still score points arguing for a higher national minimum wage. Its great, its a gift that just keeps on giving. Every few years, inflation catches up, the minimum wage is worth less than it used to be, and dems can score votes arguing to raise it. Of course, republicans will always take the bait and argue against a minimum wage hike, partly because they’re cheap, and partly because they know that companies who pay their workers more produce a better product that sells for more, people would rather get paid more to do better quality work than less to do less quality work, and people would rather have a higher quality product if they can afford it. Thus the market dictates true minimum wage, because one can always hire illegal workers for cheaper if minimum wage is too high. K.

  • Anonymous

    Illegal workers can be white people too. Illegals means anyone who worked without paying taxes, under the table, cash, etc. Jack the minimum wage to like 15+ an hour, and you will start to see a mix of races at home depot looking for cash work.

  • cppb

    I think K. is on to something. If we change any law, people might break it. If only there was a way to enforce laws.

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