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November 15, 2006


Two questions about that Northeastern study:

(1) What's the percentage -- in those states -- of laborers at the minimum wage? Looking at the aggregate change in employment owing to a change in minimum wage law might not be the most sensible comparison. After all, do we really consider it as confirmation of minimum wage changes not affecting employment that computer programmers are not getting laid off? In Delaware, for example (someone stop me if I am reading the chart from Phil's link wrong), there are 219,000 workers at hourly wages, of which 4,000 are at the minimum wage. That's only 2% of the workforce to begin with.

(2) I have to admit that I'm skeptical that looking at the next year's employment numbers should be regarded as compelling evidence. Few of these employment situations are of the classic fixed plant/flexible employment scenario where managers lay off or take on new labor immediately based on market conditions. This is in its way ironic, because labor being variable in the short-run, you would think that business would be very responsive to changes in labor costs. But I think you have to look a couple of years down the line (which is itself dicey, because then other factors cloud the picture). Shorter me: businesses may be captive in the short run, but local changes in minimum wage could make a difference the next time they decide to buy a plant, the next time they make major capital decisions, and those, being long-run effects, would only begin to show up three, four years in the future.

If one does not have a right to live without roommates;

And if one does have a right to live;

Then does one have a right to roommates?

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