By Adam Pagnucco.
Discussion of Montgomery County’s minimum wage study, branded “absurd junk science” by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), is spreading like wildfire through online conservative outlets. It is now fortifying right-wing arguments against minimum wage hikes all over the United States.
The study, exposed by EPI, Seventh State and economists interviewed by Bethesda Magazine as possessing numerous crippling methodological problems, has nevertheless been embraced by right-wing online media. That includes articles by Fox News, Breitbart, Townhall.com, Young Conservatives, the New Right News, the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, L. Brent Bozell’s CNSNews, the Job Creators Network’s Information Station, the Washington Free Beacon, a Washington Examiner columnist, a Forbes Magazine columnist, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Economic Collapse News. Because the conservative echo chamber cross-pollinates its content, it’s probably just a matter of time before the study makes its way to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other big-time right-wing hosts.
It’s worth noting what a few of these outlets are saying.
The study’s findings are pretty bleak:
The county’s current minimum wage is $11.50. The study concluded that an $11 hourly wage was the local market rate needed to attract and retain employees. It found that increasing the wage would cost the county an additional $10 million per year to increase county employee wages.
The report found there are about 88,000 “low-wage jobs” in the county, in which employees make $1,250 or less per month that could be affected by the minimum-wage increase.
Study after study, report after report, common sense continually highlight a crucial fact: a $15 minimum wage results in lost jobs, lower pay, less work for workers and jobs that are not being created.
In all, raising the minimum wage to $15 would result in the loss of $396.5 million of income in the county by 2022. And even Democrats — or smart ones — know what a $15 minimum wage would do to low-income workers.
A county considering raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour commissioned a study on the impacts of the hike, and the results are staggering. It should serve as a wake-up call to other localities considering large increases…
For those who care about empowering low-income Americans and lifting workers out of poverty, the mounting evidence and data show raising the minimum wage to $15 isn’t compassionate, just, or charitable. It kills opportunity and creates more poverty, especially for young Americans trying to build their skill sets and make ends meet.
Those still doing #FightFor15 have important questions to answer: Why are you ignoring evidence that hurts low-wage workers? If you don’t care that it hurts low-wage workers, what are your real motives? Aren’t there other anti-poverty policy measures you can fight for that would be more productive?
None of these right-wing publications question the study’s methodology. They embrace it uncritically because it agrees with their worldview. And as other governments consider their minimum wage policies, the study will be used to discourage increases. State Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), lead sponsor of a $15 state minimum wage bill last year, debunked the study on WBAL radio but it will surely come up again.
We do not criticize County Executive Ike Leggett for being concerned about the employment effects of the minimum wage bill. At some point, an excessively high minimum wage will lead to employment losses and business shutdowns that outweigh the positive benefits for workers who keep their jobs. At present, no one knows what level of minimum wage that is. But the MoCo junk science study, which cost the county $149,600, does not help us determine that wage level one bit. What it does is give aid and comfort to right-wing ideologues who are willing to use any “information,” however flawed, to push their agenda.
Is that a worthy purpose for your tax dollars?