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Where do St Paul’s mayoral candidates stand on the minimum wage?

As we predicted, the Fight for $15 has moved from Minneapolis to St Paul. Having lumbered Minneapolis’ employers with this job killing bit of legislation, activists must now go hunting in the neighboring areas. In an attempt to stop employers fleeing Minneapolis, labor markets next door must be hobbled to the same extent.

The evidence suggests that minimum wage laws harm the very workers they are ostensibly intended to help. Summing up this research, economists David Neumark and William L. Wascher found that “minimum wages reduce employment opportunities for less-skilled workers…[that] a higher minimum wage tends to reduce rather than to increase the earnings of the lowest-skilled individuals…[that] minimum wages do not, on net, reduce poverty…[and that] minimum wages appear to have adverse longer-run effects on wages and earnings.”

St Paul’s mayoral candidates on the minimum wage

KSTP reports

On Sunday afternoon, Minnesota faith group ISAIAH hosted a forum at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul, where candidates addressed topics including mass incarceration, immigration policies and whether to raise the minimum wage.

The eight (of 10) St. Paul mayoral candidates who attended were asked, among other questions: “If you are elected, will you support a $15 minimum wage ordinance by end of 2018? If so, how will you work with us to do this?”

With the economics of the question in mind, how did the candidates answer?

Tom Goldstein:

I would work to have all large employers in St. Paul within two years paying $15 an hour…if we want to bring jobs here we have to make sure we don’t set the bar too high for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Pat Harris:

I absolutely support a $15 an hour minimum wage … I also believe we need to consider its impact on small business.

Tim Holden:

We need to create commerce. $15 an hour is going to be very difficult for small, small businesses to maintain and account and afford.

Dai Thao:

I grew up in the public housing, single-mom home, roach-infested home … I know what it’s like to be in poverty so I will absolutely support this and work with you.

Barnabas Joshua Yshua:

Is it going to have to happen? Probably. Does it have to happen now? I think we should probably hold off on it.

Melvin Carter:

Raising the minimum wage is a critical investment in eliminating poverty and homelessness in our community.

Trahern Crews:

One thing we’d have to do to make it happen is make amendments to the charter of the City of St. Paul. Also, we could do a ballot initiative.

Elizabeth Dickinson:

We’ve moved from ‘Should we do this?’ to how we’re going to do it. That’s where I would really enjoy working with you.

There’s a refreshing range of views represented there from the sensible to the not so sensible via the non-committal. When judging what the candidates say, keep in mind what the evidence says.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 

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