Seattle leaders are displaying shocking bias by turning over a study on their minimum wage increase to Michael Reich, a left-leaning economics professor at the University of California Berkeley, after their initial sanctioned study with the University of Washington (UW) proved their decision to raise the wage was having adverse effects.
Seattle’s 2014 legislation called for a gradual increase of the city’s minimum wage until it reaches $15 an hour. Following the vote, commissioners recruited a team of UW researchers to find the effects of the steady rising minimum wage. Not to the surprise of fiscal conservatives, the study found the last minimum wage increase ($10.50 to $13 an hour) resulted in a 6 percent drop of what employers are able to pay their employees — an adverse effect on both employment rates and the hours workers are able to pick up.
Despite the study receiving bipartisanship acknowledgment, Seattle city leaders abruptly pulled the UW study and turned it over to a well-known “raise the wage” activist. Seattle City councilwoman Kshama Sawanat critiqued the methodology and abruptly cut funding.
“The moment we saw it was based on flawed methodology and was going to be unreliable, the Vigdor study no longer speaks for City Hall,” said Sawant, who ran for her current councilwoman position as a socialist.
Councilwoman Sawant’s dislike of the study’s methodology seems disingenuous and suspicions surrounding a bias on the part of Sawant and other city leaders deepen when looking at who city leaders sought out as a replacement for evaluating the effects of Seattle’s minimum wage.
Sawant and Mayor Murray contacted Professor Reich of UC Berkeley after retracting funding from the University of Washington team. Professor Reich is most well-known for being a founding member of the anti-capitalist group, the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE). URPE states on their website that their mission is to “construct a progressive social policy, and a human-centered radical alternative to capitalism.”
Professor Reich’s clear personal opposition to capitalism coupled with his past studies revealing the benefits of raising the minimum wage leave one wondering if Seattle city leaders sought him out for his politics rather than his economic expertise.