Posts tagged ‘Sacramento Bee’

Progressive Narrative Fail: Why Are Low Income Workers and the Unemployed Running from High Minimum Wage States to Low Minimum Wage States?

I think many folks are aware of how certain wealthy neighborhoods use zoning to keep out the lower-income people they don't want around  (e.g. minimum lot sizes, minimum home sizes, petty harassment over home and lawn maintenance, etc.)  If you think of California as one big rich neighborhood, many of their labor and housing laws have this same effect of keeping lower income people out.

From the Sacramento Bee

Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states. This migration was not spread evenly across all income groups, a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data found. The people leaving tend to be relatively poor, and many lack college degrees. Move higher up the income spectrum, and slightly more people are coming than going.

About 2.5 million people living close to the official poverty line left California for other states from 2005 through 2015, while 1.7 million people at that income level moved in from other states – for a net loss of 800,000.

...
The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

Wow, I am totally lost.  The minimum wage currently in California is $10.50 an hour, going up to $15 over the next 5 years.  The minimum wage in Texas is the Federal minimum at $7.25.  If I understand it right from progressives, minimum wages are a windfall for workers that raise wages without any reduction in employment.  So why are the very people California claims it is trying to help leaving the state in droves?  For unenlightened Texas, of all places.

Of course the reason is that minimum wages do indeed have employment effects.If you think of California as one big rich neighborhood, minimum wages act as a zoning plan to keep the "unwashed" out.  Setting a minimum wage of $15 is equivalent to saying, "if your skills and education and experience are low enough that your labor is not yet worth $15 an hour or more, stay out."

Of course, there are a lot more problems for jobs in California than just minimum wages.  At every turn, California works to make operating a business difficult and hiring unskilled workers more expensive.  And then there is the cost side.  With its building restrictions and environmental rules, most California cities have artificially inflated housing costs, just another way to tell lower income  people to keep out.

Well-paid new arrivals in California enjoy a life that is far out of reach of much of the state’s population. Besides Hawaii and New York, California has the highest cost of living in America.

During the past three years in Sacramento, median rent for a one-bedroom apartment has risen from about $935 a month to $1,230 a month, according to real estate tracking firm Zillow.com. A single mother working 40 hours a week at $15 an hour would spend nearly half of her gross income to afford an apartment at that price. She would pay about 10 percent less for a one-bedroom rental in Houston or Dallas.

Sacramento remains relatively affordable compared to other California markets. Median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is about $2,270 a month. In San Francisco, $3,700. Without subsidies, those prices are unreachable for a single parent making $15 an hour.

The key to attacking poverty is creating more jobs, not artificially raising the rates of entry-level jobs.

What if We Treated Other Purchases Like Health Care

Daniel Weintraub has a nice take on our health care system in a post recently in the Sacramento Bee.

Imagine for a moment that your employer was required by law to buy a
plan to manage your nutrition needs - rather than simply paying you a
wage, out of which you buy the food you want to eat.

Or suppose the government required your employer to pay for a housing
plan, rather than paying you and letting you decide where and how to
live.

Finally, consider what it would be like if the company you work for was
mandated to design and finance a transportation plan for you, with a
list of options for how you could get to work and back home each day.

Each of these scenarios brings a few things to mind.

First, you'd probably get paid a lot less than you do today, because
your employer would be diverting much of your current wages to pay for
these plans instead.

Second, you would have less choice than you do now, because your
employer would have to standardize these food, housing and
transportation plans to fit the needs of many workers.

Third, the service you would get from your local grocery store,
landlord or automobile dealer would probably be worse, since your
relationship with each of them would now be muddled through the entry
of a third party, your employer. Your local grocer would have a greater
incentive to try to satisfy his real customer - your boss, or worse,
the food management company your boss chose - than to serve your needs.

Fourth, the costs of each of these goods would tend to rise over time -
especially if you and your fellow employees were able to eat as much as
you liked, or live in any size house or drive as far as you wanted
within the choices provided. While large employers might be able to use
their superior bargaining power to drive down costs a bit, their power
in the marketplace would be outweighed by the increased cost of
providing food, housing and transportation in quantities unlimited by
the discipline that comes when a consumer pays for something
out-of-pocket.

Finally, as the costs did start to rise, you would feel less secure
about where your next meal was coming from, or whether you'd have a
place to live tomorrow or a car to drive to work. With the management
of these essential items in the hands of a third party, you'd feel
vulnerable, worried about whether they might cut back on your choices
or on the quality of the offerings in order to save money.

Beyond these arguments, there is the threat of using publicly funded health care as a Trojan Horse for complete government micromanagement of our lives.