Listen to people argue both sides of the minimum wage issue and there seems to be no common ground: raising the minimum wage either helps low-wage workers or it puts people out of work. The media seizes on one of these points, depending on their own particular political bias. But sometimes a writer manages to present a balanced view.
Bloomberg View’s Megan McArdle presents just such balanced reporting in her piece “Seattle’s Painful Lesson on the Road to a $15 Minimum Wage,” published June 26, 2017. She even cites the 1994 study used to argue that small increases in the minimum wage do not result in layoffs.
However, McArdle also tells readers that the picture isn’t as simple as that. Newer studies looking at Seattle’s decision to hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour show that the raises have effectively reduced workers’ take-home pay. This is because business owners cut back on employees’ hours to make up for the increased hourly wage.
The writer wisely points out that “Washington State just happens to have unusually rich data available.” With the big increases that Seattle has imposed over a short period of time, the area provides a real-life case study for those interested in how the minimum wage affects businesses.
McArdle presents both sides in her article and backs it up with references to the studies. That is what journalists should be doing.