IRLE Minimum Wage Group Influences National, State and Local Debates

This corpus of policy briefs, reports and academic research has greatly influenced the widespread public and academic debates about the future of U.S. minimum wage policy. The national media closely follows the release of IRLE publications and is quick to seek the opinions of many of our experts.

Much of the academic minimum wage research at IRLE is spearheaded by Professor Michael Reich and Dr. Sylvia Allegretto, co-chairs of the Center for Wage and Employment Dynamics (CWED) at IRLE.

Other minimum wage researchers at IRLE include Ken Jacobs, Chair of the Center for Labor Research and Education (CLRE) and Annette Bernhardt, Senior Researcher, CLRE. In addition to the CWED publications listed below, CLRE publishes a variety of research and resources on minimum wages, including the Inventory of US City and County Minimum Wage Ordinances.

CWED Minimum Wage Publications

2014
Liftoff: Raising Wages at San Francisco Airport
, and   –  Scholarly Publications

In When Mandates Work, Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, and Miranda Dietz, eds. University of California Press. January 2014.

Abstract
Most of the first wave of living wage ordinances that were enacted in the mid-1990s involved minimum pay scales that were substantially above federal and state minimum wages. Typically they set a standard of $8.00 or more per hour when the minimum wage was $5.15. Policy makers gen- erally assumed that a living wage policy could not work in trade-based goods- or service-producing sectors that were subject to the forces of tech- nological change and global competition. Consequently, living wage ordi- nances typically covered only workers on municipal service contracts, or only about 3 percent to 5 percent of the low-wage workers in a city. The implementation of these ordinances often involved granting numerous waivers and exemptions, further reducing their impact. Consequently, the first ordinances were thought to have small spillover impacts on the local low-wage labor market (Freeman 2005).
When Do Mandates Work?
and   –  Scholarly Publications

In When Mandates Work, Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, and Miranda Dietz, eds. University of California Press. January 2014.

Abstract
Beginning in the late 1990s, the City of San Francisco enacted a notable series of laws designed to improve pay and benefits, expand health care access, and extend paid sick leave for low-wage San Francisco residents and workers. Remarkably, and despite many warnings about dire negative effects, these new policies raised living standards significantly for tens of thousands of people, and without creating any negative effects on employment. While modest by most European and Canadian standards, San Francisco’s policies represent a bold experiment in American labor market policies that provides important lessons for the rest of the United States.
Labor Market Impacts of San Francisco’s Minimum Wage
, and   –  Scholarly Publications

In When Mandates Work, Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, and Miranda Dietz, eds. University of California Press. January 2014.

Abstract
In November 2003 San Francisco voters passed a ballot proposition to enact a minimum wage covering all employers in the city. The new standard set a minimum wage at $8.50 per hour—over 26 percent above the then-current California minimum wage of $6.75—and an annual adjustment for cost of living increases (reaching $10.55 in 2013). This standard, which first became effective in late February 2004, constituted the highest minimum wage in the United States and the first implemented universal municipal minimum wage in a major city. In a prospective study of this policy, Reich and Laitinen (2003) estimated that about 54,000 workers, amounting to 10.6 percent of the city’s workforce, would receive wage increases, either directly or indirectly, if such a policy were adopted and that the increased wage costs on average would amount to about 1 percent of business operating costs.
When Mandates Work
, and   –  Scholarly Publications

When Mandates Work, Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, and Miranda Dietz, eds. University of California Press. January 2014.

Abstract
Starting in the 1990s, San Francisco launched a series of bold but relatively unknown public policy experiments to improve wages and benefits for thousands of local workers. Since then, scholars have documented the effects of those policies on compensation, productivity, job creation, and health coverage. Opponents predicted a range of negative impacts, but the evidence tells a decidedly different tale. This book brings together that evidence for the first time, reviews it as a whole, and considers its lessons for local, state, and federal policymakers.
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