Who could have possibly seen this coming? Almost three years we first detailed howAmerica has become an entitlement nation where “work is punished.” It appears President Obama is about to discover this first hand as his populist ‘raise the minimum wage’ strategy is showing yet another major unintended consequence. On the same day as New York acts to mandate a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers, Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law – which is supposed to lift workers out of poverty and off public assistance – has hit a snag. As Fox News reports, evidence is surfacing that some workers are asking their bosses for fewer hours as their wages rise – in a bid to keep overall income down so they don’t lose public subsidies for things like food, child care and rent. So not only is work ‘punished’ it is now ‘disinentivized by mandate’ as part-time America toils amid ever-rising costs of living.
This isthe painful reality in America: for increasingly more it is now more lucrative – in the form of actual disposable income – to sit, do nothing, and collect various welfare entitlements, than to work.
This is graphically, and very painfully confirmed, in the below chart from Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (a state best known for its broke capital Harrisburg). As quantitied, and explained by Alexander, “the single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.”
We realize that this is a painful topic in a country in which the issue of welfare benefits, and cutting (or not) the spending side of the fiscal cliff, have become the two most sensitive social topics. Alas, none of that changes the matrix of incentives for most Americans who find themselves in a comparable situation: either being on the left side of minimum US wage, and relying on benefits, or move to the right side at far greater personal investment of work, and energy, and… have the same disposable income at the end of the day.
And so, as Fox News reports, it is no surprise that the sudden gains in income from a government-mandated $15 minimum wage would tip some over the edge of their handouts entitlement… and thus dicincentize work altogether…
Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law is supposed to lift workers out of poverty and move them off public assistance. But there may be a hitch in the plan.
Evidence is surfacing that some workers are asking their bosses for fewer hours as their wages rise – in a bid to keep overall income down so they don’t lose public subsidies for things like food, child care and rent.
Full Life Care, a home nursing nonprofit, told KIRO-TV in Seattle that several workers want to work less.
“If they cut down their hours to stay on those subsidies because the $15 per hour minimum wage didn’t actually help get them out of poverty, all you’ve done is put a burden on the business and given false hope to a lot of people,” said Jason Rantz, host of the Jason Rantz show on 97.3 KIRO-FM.
The twist is just one apparent side effect of the controversial — yet trendsetting — minimum wage law in Seattle, which is being copied in several other cities despite concerns over prices rising and businesses struggling to keep up.
The notion that employees are intentionally working less to preserve their welfare has been a hot topic on talk radio. While the claims are difficult to track, state stats indeed suggest few are moving off welfare programs under the new wage.
Despite a booming economy throughout western Washington, the state’s welfare caseload has dropped very little since the higher wage phase began in Seattle in April. In March 130,851 people were enrolled in the Basic Food program. In April, the caseload dropped to 130,376.
At the same time, prices appear to be going up on just about everything.
Some restaurants have tacked on a 15 percent surcharge to cover the higher wages. And some managers are no longer encouraging customers to tip, leading to a redistribution of income. Workers in the back of the kitchen, such as dishwashers and cooks, are getting paid more, but servers who rely on tips are seeing a pay cut.
Some long-time Seattle restaurants have closed altogether, though none of the owners publicly blamed the minimum wage law.
“It’s what happens when the government imposes a restriction on the labor market that normally wouldn’t be there, and marginal businesses get hit the hardest, and usually those are small, neighborhood businesses,” said Paul Guppy, of the Washington Policy Center.
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As we previously concluded, with more than half of welfare spending going to working families…
The irony here seems to be that because companies would rather spend their money on raises for “supervisors” and on stock buybacks which benefit the very same supervisory employees who are likey to own stocks (and which artificially inflate the bottom line), everyday taxpayers just like the ones who can’t get a raise end up footing the bill via public assistance programs. The companies meanwhile, get to utilize nice little tricks like corporate tax inversions in order to avoid paying their share of the assistance handed out to the very same employees they underpay.