Over the past couple of years, a number of states have passed increases in their minimum wage, giving low wage workers the boost that the Republican controlled congress has refused to approve. The push by activists and many Democrats is for a $15 minimum wage. No states have reached that level as of yet, but a $15 minimum has been approved in several localities.
With more states set to increase their minimum wage in 2016, the right is once again in attack mode, offering up all sorts of lies and distortions about the supposed negative effects of a higher minimum wage. One of the most recent lies to be floated around social media is the following meme, by the right-wing “Modern American Revolution” Facebook page:
Of course righties are eating it up. As of this writing, the post has 1,755 “likes” and 1,558 “shares,” along with 118 comments. But would it surprise you to learn that there is literally nothing factual about this meme.
The photo is of a right-wing fantasy — that raising the minimum wage will cause companies to replace humans with machines. This comes up every time raising the minimum wage is mentioned. McDonalds has already said that while they are experimenting with self-service kiosks, they have no intention of installing them to replace human workers.
If the photo is misleading, the words are an outright lie. First of all, the minimum wage in California is not $15 an hour. It is currently $9, and increases to $10 on January 1. San Francisco has increased its minimum to $12.25 an hour, on the way to $15 by 2018. But there is nowhere in the Golden State where the minimum is currently what the meme suggests it is.
It’s also a lie to say that this is a Democratic “fail.” Putting aside for a moment the issue of whether it is a failure or not, minimum wage increases have been approved not just by Democratic legislatures, but by voters, even in “red” states like Arkansas.
As is typical for many memes, there is no attribution for the claim. But it is likely that the number 200,000 comes from a paper written by UC Irvine professor David Neumark that was published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco on December 21. Would it surprise you that the conclusions that Neumark reached are nothing like the claim in the meme?
In his paper, Neumark was looking at the potential employment effects of a higher minimum wage. He looked at research on the topic that has been conducted recently, since the end of the recession. What he found is that most of that research estimates that increasing the minimum wage has an effect on employment that ranges from zero to a very small loss in jobs. He says that assuming a small loss in jobs is a more defensible position than assuming that increased wages have not caused any job losses at all. And from that he concludes that post-recession minimum wage increases nationwide may have resulted in the loss of between 100,000 and 200,000 jobs.
Of course, the economy has seen a net gain in jobs for months (over 10 million since President Obama came into office), so the term “job losses” doesn’t actually mean “fewer jobs.” It means “not as many jobs as there might have been otherwise.”
So that’s 200,000 jobs at most, over several years since the end of the recession, and nationwide, not just in California. Could this meme be any more spectacularly wrong?
Featured image via Facebook