A new report by the Washington Free Beacon blows the lid off of the already highly suspect story of the City of Seattle's two conflicting minimum wage reports. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, WFB had a chance to review emails between Seattle's Democratic Mayor Ed Murray, a big wig union PR firm, and the supposedly "unbiased" research team at University of California, Berkeley headed up by Michael Reich. The Free Beacon found egregious collusion between the three to squash clear evidence that the city's minimum wage policy was hurting workers.
Seattle has been one of the more aggressive "Fight for $15" cities in the country and is currently in the middle of a staged wage increase on the way to that magical "living wage" number. But when Mayor Murray (who recently announced that he won't be running for re-election amid allegations of child sexual abuse, which he denies) and his fellow progressive colleagues in Seattle realized that the forthcoming extensive study by the University of Washington of the city's 2016 wage increase to $13 was going to show that the policy has actually hurt rather than helped residents — particularly low-skilled and entry-level workers (to the tune of $179 a month) — Murray et al sprung into action.
The Free Beacon highlights how Murray's office reached out to pro-minimum wage economist Michael Reich at UC Berkeley to "rush" a study that would conclude that the $13 wage hike was really helping citizens. In the process, the mayor's office instructed the supposedly "unbiased" Reich to eliminate any reference to the damaging UW study:
"Leave the critique of the UW study until later," mayoral staffer Carlo Caldirola-Davis said in an email obtained through a public records request from the pro-free market think tank Employment Policies Institute. "The release still calls out the UW study. Don't want your positive news to serve as a teaser for the UW study."
Reich's study compared Seattle's food service economy to a "synthetic" control group of other Washington State and out-of-state cities, as wages increased to $13 an hour in 2016 as part of an ordinance that will eventually raise the minimum wage to $15. It concluded that "wages in food services did increase—indicating the policy achieved its goal" and that "employment in food service, however, was not affected."
As instructed, Reich's paper removed any mention of the findings of the UW study, instead mentioning two different studies from the university from 2016 that found a "significant increase" in the city's wages in 2015, credited by researchers to the wage hike and economic boom enjoyed by the city at that period.
"I changed the UW references to be about their report from Nov. 2016. Is that OK? Could put them in a para. rather than as bullets. Or take them out altogether," said Reich in an email.
Reich's clearly politically motivated and increasingly discredited study thus not only conveniently concluded the opposite of UW's far more credible analysis but purged any reference to it for fear of giving it more publicity.
The Free Beacon also details how Reich disingenuously praised the UW researchers when he first requested access to their data for his own study, the same study in which he would deliberately undermine those same researchers' findings:
Reich had reached out to the University of Washington researchers praising their work and asking to see their data even as he raced to get ahead of the publication of their study at the mayor's request.
"I would like to receive asap an advance copy of the NBER wp, as the Mayor's Office has already asked that I provide comments on your draft version of April 2017. Of course I'd prefer to comment on your most current version," he said in a June 11 email. "Your Seattle minimum wage papers have the great strength of drawing from rich administrative microdata data. It would be very helpful to interpreting your results if a de-identified version of your data were available to other researchers."
And, of course, the leftist union PR big wig BerlinRosen was in on the collusion with Reich:
Reich also coordinated with liberal PR giant BerlinRosen, which has received millions from labor unions to assist the Fight for $15 movement, to draw attention to the study. He exchanged emails with two different staffers, Rob Duffey and Daniel Massey, to craft a press release and arrange leaks to an AP reporter. Neither Duffey nor Massey returned requests for comment.
"These emails are further proof that the Berkeley team is motivated by ideology, not evidence," the Employment Policies Insitute's Michael Saltsman told the Free Beacon. "The contrast with the University of Washington team is not a flattering one: While Berkeley rushed its results to meet a political timeline, the UW team took its time to solicit scholarly feedback to refine its results." The "Berkeley team is not an unbiased arbiter of the facts on $15," said Saltsman.
If you haven't seen PragerU's video series on the minimum wage argument, here's one of them:
H/T Jazz Shaw