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  • Help us build a better Ontario September 14, 2017
    If you live in Ontario, you may have recently been selected to receive our 2017 grassroots poll on vital issues affecting the province. Your answers to these and other essential questions will help us decide what issues to focus on as we head towards the June 2018 election in Ontario. For decades, the CCPA has […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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    Today CCPC-BC senior economist Marc Lee submitted an analysis to the BC Utilities Commission in response to their consultation on the economics of the Site C dam. You can read it here. In short, the submission discussses how the economic case for Site C assumes that industrial demand for electricity—in particular for natural gas extraction […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Ontario's middle and working class families are losing ground August 15, 2017
    Ontario is becoming more polarized as middle and working class families see their share of the income pie shrinking while upper middle and rich families take home even more. New research from CCPA-Ontario Senior Economist Sheila Block reveals a staggering divide between two labour markets in the province: the top half of families continue to pile […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Join us in October for the CCPA-BC fundraising gala, featuring Senator Murray Sinclair August 14, 2017
    We are incredibly honoured to announce that Senator Murray Sinclair will address our 2017 Annual Gala as keynote speaker, on Thursday, October 19 in Vancouver. Tickets are now on sale. Will you join us? Senator Sinclair has served as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), was the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba, […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • How to make NAFTA sustainable, equitable July 19, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is consulting Canadians on their priorities for, and concerns about, the planned renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood point out how NAFTA has failed to live up to its promise with respect to job and productivity […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

The headline you didn’t see: $15 per hour will have a big net benefit

You wouldn’t know it from today’s headlines about impending job losses, but an analysis of the impact of Ontario’s move to a $15 minimum wage from the province’s Financial Accountability Office shows a net benefit for Ontario workers.

Overall, this is a much more cautious report than what the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its allies had furnished, noting both the costs and benefits of $15. While the media is focusing on job loss figures (more on this below), the report predicts a big overall rise in incomes. Even if we assume its job loss estimates come true, the FAO says real labour income will go up by 1.3% after taking into account any negative effects, with over 60% of that going to the bottom 50% of households.

Anything raising wages (*cough* CEO pay) will create impacts elsewhere. The important point here is that this report admits that $15 is a poverty- and inequality-fighting shift. Some jobs will be lost, but others will be created. (Lagging) productivity will rise. Even a very modest bump in inflation could push growth upwards. Today’s growing but imbalanced economy is well-placed for a boost for low-wage workers.

Returning to the job loss figure, the FAO report is another in a long line to present a skewed picture of minimum wage research, relying exclusively on the old view that features high estimates of job losses focused on teens. The recent, landmark Canadian study from David Green and Pierre Brochu (2013) is not mentioned — using modern methods, the pair found lower elasticity estimates (the percentage effect on employment for every 10% increase in the minimum wage) that would predict far lower job loss. Nor do the FAO economists mention the extensive work of Arin Dube and colleagues from the US, today’s leading minimum wage researchers. Dube and co. reevaluated US teen studies and found employment effects either effectively zero or very, very small — even among teens!

(It’s surprising, given the FAO’s focus on poverty, that they ignore Dube’s recent work on this issue as well, which found substantial decreases in the number of people living in poverty coming from minimum wage increases. In fact, it will be very interesting how the FAO calculated the distribution of income impacts and what they imply about poverty rates.)

Today’s new minimum wage research, if applied to Ontario would predict job losses anywhere from half of what the FAO is putting out to ten times smaller to nil (some studies, including well-known papers, have even shown small but positive aggregate employment effects). In short, there has been a tectonic shift in the economic consensus towards negligible job loss. This leads one to wonder how 50,000 jobs lost is to be a mid-point estimate.

Here is my main take-away: the FAO shows a $15 per hour minimum wage having a net benefit for Ontario workers and reducing inequality; that it ignores new minimum wage research only means that its already positive conclusions should be much stronger and job loss estimates lower.

Enjoy and share:

Comments

Comment from Larry Kazdan
Time: September 12, 2017, 7:02 pm

The truth about the minimum wage

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/the-truth-about-the-minimum-wage

“The research on minimum wage increases in the United States over the past two decades is clear:

[Moderate] increases in the minimum wage raise the hourly wage and earnings of workers in the lower part of the wage distribution and have very modest or no effects on employment, hours, and other labor market outcomes.”

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