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posted by n1 on Thursday June 05 2014, @11:18AM   Printer-friendly
from the will-code-for-gold dept.

The NYT reports that in a unanimous vote, the Seattle City Council went where no big-city lawmakers have gone before, raising the local minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum, and pushing Seattle to the forefront of urban efforts to address income inequality. "Even before the Great Recession a lot of us have started to have doubt and concern about the basic economic promise that underpins economic life in the United States," says Council Member Sally J. Clark. "Today Seattle answers that challenge." High-tech, fast-growing Seattle, population 634,535, is home to, Zillow, and Starbucks. It also has more than 100,000 workers whose incomes are insufficient to support their families, according to city figures and around 14% of Seattle's population lives below the poverty level. Some business owners have questioned the proposal saying that the city's booming economy is creating an illusion of permanence. "We're living in this bubble of Amazon, but that's not going to go on," says businessman Tom Douglas. "There's going to be some terrific price inflation."

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  • (Score: 1) by Buck Feta on Friday June 06 2014, @02:51PM

    by Buck Feta (958) on Friday June 06 2014, @02:51PM (#52264) Journal

    That's actually a great question. The answer is that there are different types of inflation and that they are caused by different forces. Commodity inflation, for instance, might be caused by bad weather, a crop failure, and higher grain prices. We saw this in Asia in recent years where the poorest people were dramatically affect by huge spikes in the cost of their biggest expenditure. In the US, much of our inflation is caused by the financial system. Regulators are constantly walking the line between too much unemployment and too much inflation. Wage inflation, as you point out, is another particular type of inflation. In the case of Seattle, if barista salaries go from $10 to $15 an hour, the cost of a cup of joe, will also rise or lots of coffeehouses will fail. In this specialized case, low level employees don't fare too badly. In reality, wage inflation usually lags other types of inflation as a response to economic conditions. I can think of only a few counter examples. During the internet bubble we saw salaries of workers in certain tech sectors spike way up, because there weren't enough butts to fill all the seats available. It was great for the workers until the bubble popped. In the Seattle example from the main story, we see legislation as the root cause of wage inflation. Probably the effect will be limited to service industries served by a relatively small percentage of the population. The price of a loaf of bread might not be affected much because local labor is such a small part of the inputs, but a cup of coffehouse coffee, is mostly made up of labor costs and so will get more expensive.

    - fractious political commentary goes here -