State minimum wage unchanged in new year. Seattle wage increases and some uncertainty lingers in SeaTac. Examining the national trend and consequences for youth employment.

Because of low inflation, the Washington state minimum wage did not increase January 1. As the Department of Labor and Industries reported in September,

Washington state’s minimum wage will stay the same in 2016 — $9.47 per hour — because the national Consumer Price Index did not increase…

It’s the second time the state minimum wage has remained flat since passage of the initiative. The last time was in 2010.

The department notes,

An estimated 67,000 full-time equivalent wage jobs are affected, according to the state Employment Security Department.

In Seattle, though, the measure adopted by the mayor and city council continues to drive wage increases. The SeaTac minimum wage measure that invigorated the $15 minimum wage campaign remains a source of some uncertainty. Although a King County Superior Court judge ruled against groups seeking evidence to challenge a state Supreme Court decision that the minimum wage increase adopted by SeaTac voters interfered with airport operations and should not apply to the port, another issue remains in play.

The issue involves whether 61 signatures of registered SeaTac voters who signed more than one petition seeking to qualify the ballot measure should or should not have been counted. That issue is still making its way to the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Manhattan Institute looks at the national trend.

On New Year’s Day fourteen states raised their minimum wages, with increases ranging from small adjustments for inflation to major hikes of 10 percent or more. Minimum wages do more harm than good, and they particularly hurt the young.

Teenagers and individuals in their early twenties often lack the skills that make them valuable to employers. Therefore, they must learn these skills on the job while not producing much for the businesses who hire them. When states (or the federal government) set high minimum wages, hiring unskilled young people will not make financial sense for most employers.

The MI analyst makes a suggestion.

Including sub-minimum wages in state minimum wage regimes is a simple policy that could create many new opportunities for young people, particularly minorities or those lacking a college degree. In their perennial drive to hike minimum wages, states should not forget the young.

As we wrote in our foundation report

In addition to the absolute costs of these measures, and the challenge they create in competing with other employers not subject to the same mandates, local governments’ wage and benefit regulations create compliance problems for employers operating in multiple jurisdictions. They also create difficulties as employers look to align their human resource policies among cities with different mandates. For example, the SeaTac and Seattle sick leave policies have differing provisions

Research is mixed on the effects of incremental increases in the minimum wage, but large increases are clearly associated with declining job opportunities for the young and unskilled.

It’s likely that compensation issues will play a role in the coming legislative session and 2016 political campaigns. The issue is of more than rhetorical significance. There’s an emerging consensus supporting the proposition that higher minimum wages create entry-level employment barriers to youth, limiting their opportunities to develop the skills and experience required to move up the career ladder. The Manhattan Institute recommendation represents one way to minimize the adverse effect.