Minimum wage increases on state ballots this election cycle could cost 290,000 jobs, according to a new analysis.
Ballot initiatives in Arizona, Colorado and Maine to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour and one in Washington to raise it to $13.50 would slow job growth, the right-of-center American Action Forum concluded Friday.
"While initiatives to raise the minimum wage are popular, it is important to understand that they have a cost," author Ben Gitis wrote. "The low-wage, low-skill workers who labor advocates want to help are the very workers who bear this cost, as hundreds of thousands would be unable to maintain their current job or attain a new one."
The group, which advocates for conservative policies, based its estimates on a recent study by Texas A&M economist Jonathan Meer and University of Santa Cruz economist Jeremy West, which included estimates of lost job growth based on the size of minimum wage increases.
Then the analysis plugged in the size of each state's increases. Arizona, for instance, would raise its minimum wage from about $8.60 to $12 by the year 2020, a nearly 40 percent increase. Maine would be raising its minimum wage from $7.50 to $12, a 60 percent increase.
Recent academic evidence on the effects of minimum wage increases has been mixed, however, and minimum wage advocates have argued that moderate minimum wage increases might not lead to job loss.
The past several years have seen a sustained effort by labor and liberal groups to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour and to push for $15 minimum wages. New York and California have passed laws to phase in $15 wage floors.