Regarding the Sept. 26 Metro article “Montgomery debates wage increase”:
The Montgomery County Council bill to raise the county’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022 would clearly benefit low-wage workers. Some argue against the bill, citing job loss as a concern thanks in part to a faulty study by a firm that, beyond making errors in calculation, also computed expected employment impacts of the minimum-wage increase by asking firms how many workers they would lay off. The methods and findings of the study are well outside of the bounds of academic research on the subject. The academic literature has looked at actual firm reactions to minimum-wage increases rather than hypothetical projections by firms. By comparing neighboring counties in different states subject to different minimum-wage laws, the academic literature has found no statistically detectable negative employment impacts from prior minimum-wage increases. This holds for minimum wages as high as 55 percent of the median wage.
The proposal in Montgomery County would be below that 55 percent level, so resulting unemployment would be unlikely. On the other hand, academic evidence points to large declines in poverty, improvements in infant health and reductions in public benefits usage, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the earned-income tax credit.
The minimum-wage bill should pass.
Ethan D. Kaplan, Takoma Park