Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Working Washington calls it a lesson for other cities and states considering higher wages—the very same businesses that predicted disaster a year ago are now hiring, expanding, and reinvesting as Seattle economy grows stronger. (Photo: AP)

'The Sky Remains Aloft': Dire Minimum Wage Predictions Proved Wrong

Local business success stories show "there's no reason for anyone to treat these kinds of threats as credible any longer"

Deirdre Fulton

One year after Seattle's mayor signed the nation's first citywide $15 minimum wage into law, dire predictions of economic collapse have not come to pass. 

In fact, according to Working Washington—the group that launched the fast food strikes that sparked the fight for $15 in Seattle and then helped lead the victorious campaign—many of the very same business owners and others who predicted such devastation "are now hiring and even expanding their business operations in the city."

Consider Andrew Friedman, who owns Liberty Bar in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Working Washington notes that Friedman was one of the most outspoken opponents of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law, and helped lead the Forward Seattle effort to repeal the law. "Your favorite indie shop is out of business if $15 an hour happens," Friedman said in March of 2014. "Local independent businesses WILL close, many of your neighbors WILL be out of work."

Since the minimum wage increase took effect in April, Friedman has opened a second bar in the same neighborhood.


We Interrupt This Article with an Urgent Message!

Common Dreams is a not-for-profit organization. We fund our news team by pooling together many small contributions from our readers. No advertising. No selling our readers’ information. No reliance on big donations from the 1%. This allows us to maintain the editorial independence that our readers rely on. But this media model only works if enough readers pitch in.
We urgently need your help today.
If you support Common Dreams and you want us to survive, your gift today is critical.
Please give now to our Mid-Year Fundraiser!

For another example of a Chicken Little prediction, turn to Angela and Ethan Stowell, who own a medium-sized chain of well-regarded Seattle restaurants and "repeatedly predicted grave consequences" for the city's restaurants if the minimum wage rose to $15 an hour. "Local, independent restaurants and retailers will be the ones who are really going to struggle and some will go out of business," Angela Stowell said in June 2014.

However, Ethan Stowell Restaurants recently announced plans to open three new restaurants—all in Seattle—in the year ahead. And last month, Ethan Stowell said: "In the end, I don't think a lot of restaurants will lose a lot of business from [the new minimum wage]. Ultimately it's really good for the industry and I think everyone is going to settle down and the average customer is going to keep going out to eat like they always have. It's a bit of a storm for a little while, but I think people like to go out to dinner and ultimately restaurants and employers and employees will figure out a way that works well for everyone."

Working Washington has compiled more than a dozen such stories, in an effort to prove that "[t]here’s no reason for anyone to treat these kinds of threats as credible any longer."

And with cities across Washington state and around the country considering $15 an hour laws of their own, that message couldn't be better timed. 

"A year after Seattle’s $15 law was signed into law, it’s true that there hasn’t yet been time yet for businesses to really see the benefit of increased consumer demand from 100,000 people having more money to put back into the economy," Working Washington said in a press release. "But one thing is abundantly clear: the sky remains aloft."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·

WHO to Convene Emergency Meeting on Monkeypox Outbreak

Leading public health experts plan to discuss the ongoing outbreak as the number of confirmed cases in the U.K. more than doubled on Friday to 20.

Kenny Stancil ·

Nearly 90,000 Small Businesses in US Expected to Close After Senate GOP Kills Main Street Relief Bill

"The fate of these small businesses," said one advocacy group, "will be tied to those senators who voted down this lifeline today."

Julia Conley ·

To 'Have Our Own Media' Is Key to Political Power, Orbán Tells US Right-Wingers

Hungary's strongman prime minister gave the recommendations at CPAC's first-ever gathering in Europe.

Andrea Germanos ·

Documents Show Baby Formula Maker Enriched Shareholders Amid Deadly Bacteria Outbreak

"Abbott chose to prioritize shareholders by issuing billions of dollars in stock buybacks instead of making productive investments," said one economist.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo