Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sperling on the Minimum Wage

Gene Sperling, former economic adviser to Bill Clinton, tries to get President Bush to endorse a minimum-wage increase. Gene dismisses worries about adverse effects on employment. He writes:
No one has yet rebutted convincingly David Card and Alan Krueger's study that compared fast-food jobs on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and found no decrease in lower-wage jobs after New Jersey raised its state minimum wage.
The key word here is "convincingly." Gene is, apparently, not convinced by the Neumark-Wascher study that reevaluated the Card-Krueger work:
estimates of the employment effect of the New Jersey minimum wage increase from the payroll data lead to the opposite conclusion from that reached by CK.
Nor is he convinced by another Neumark-Wascher study that found
"no compelling evidence" that minimum wages help in the fight against poverty. A higher minimum wage...generates tradeoffs with respect to the incomes of poor and low-income families. Some families gain and others lose.
Nor is he convinced by the Neumark-Nizalova study that found adverse long-run effects of the minimum wage:
The evidence indicates that even as individuals reach their late 20's, they work less and earn less the longer they were exposed to a higher minimum wage, especially as a teenager.
Nor is he convinced by the Abowd-Kramarz-Margolis study that reported
movements in both French and American real minimum wages are associated with mild employment effects in general and very strong effects on workers employed at the minimum wage.
To me, Gene looks like a doctor prescribing a drug relying on a single controversial study that finds no adverse side effects, while ignoring the many reports of debilitating results.