Seattle's local minimum wage and earnings inequality

Mark C. Long, University of Washington
Publication Date:
Apr 2022
Published In:
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

During the past 6 years, a wave of local minimum wage laws passed in the United States with policymakers and advocates framing the policy as a means of reducing income inequality. This report evaluates whether one of the first of these efforts, Seattle's $15 minimum wage ordinance, lowered inequality of earnings of workers in the city. I find that inequality among workers who earned less than the city's median wage was modestly reduced, yet overall earnings inequality substantially increased during the period in which the ordinance was phased in, likely for reasons unrelated to the minimum wage law.


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