To paraphrase Mark 8:36, “For what good does it do a city to raise the wages of it workers, yet forfeit the jobs?” In Seattle, San Francisco’s northern soul-mate, they may well be asking that very question:
It may be one of the first casualties of Seattle’s new minimum wage law. The owner of Z Pizza says she’s being forced to close her doors, because she can’t afford the higher labor costs.
Devin Jeran was happy to get a raise, when Seattle’s minimum wage went up to $11 an hour at the beginning of the month.
“I definitely recognize that having more money is important,” he says, “especially in a city as expensive as this one.”
Unfortunately, he’ll only enjoy that bigger paycheck for a few more months. In August, his boss is shutting down Z Pizza and putting him and his 11 co-workers out of work.
“Fortunately she keeps us in the loop, she didn’t just tell us last minute.”
Ritu Shah Burnham doesn’t want to go out of business, but says she can’t afford the city’s mandated wage hikes.
“I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she says. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit, there’s no other way to do it.”
Like I’ve said many times before: the laws of economics cannot be repealed by legislative fiat. Raise the cost of labor, and businesses will be faced with a choice from among four options — pass the costs on to the consumer; reduce labor costs by cutting hours or whole jobs; eat the costs and accept lower profits; or cease doing business in that jurisdiction, either by moving or closing shop. Ritu Shah Burnham may have loved her business, or she may have hated it. But, regardless, she’s come to the conclusion it isn’t worth staying in business in Seattle. She isn’t the first, and other small businesses in other progressive cities have made the same choice.
And their workers have wound up looking for work.
What’s especially galling about this, aside from the hubris of thinking one can bend economic laws to one’s will, like a financial Lysenko, is that the progressive, social justice warrior-pols passing these laws don’t have to live with the immediate consequences: it’s not their profits that get hurt, not their business that becomes unsustainable, not their job that’s lost. They’re not the kid looking for his or her first job, only to learn the employer has cut back on hiring because he can’t afford as many employees as he used to. But these politicians do it while appealing to the god “Fairness,” assuming that it will all work out in the end with a wave of the hand, or that it will be the next guy’s problem. Whatever. They still get to hug themselves for being such wonderful people.
Their self-righteous arrogance is astounding and infuriating. It’s genuinely harming people