Saturday, November 30, 2013

What will happen with a $15 minimum wage?

Seattle's SeaTac Airport is located in the town of SeaTac, a small blue collar suburb.  SeaTac voters appear to have approved a referendum that will set the minimum wage for hospitality and transportation workers at SeaTac Airport at $15.  Apparently other airports on the West coast also have such provisions; at LAX, the minimum wage is $15.67.  The SeaTac minimum wage is well above Washington state's minimum of $9.69, which in turn is the highest state minimum wage in the country.

Supporters of the higher minimum wage for airport workers point to full-time employees living below the poverty line.  Opponents argue that there will be fewer jobs and that airport customers will have to pay higher prices and receive degraded service.  The actual impact will depend on how price sensitive airport customers are to more expensive hot dogs and rental cars.  It also will hinge on how companies can substitute capital for labor; for a $5.31 increase in the minimum wage, we might soon see McDonalds customers inputting their orders and paying on iPads.  

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