On Other Blogs Today
On Other Blogs Today: Increasing the Minimum Wage, Enforcing the Minimum Wage, and More
Our daily roundup.
1. I missed this animation of East Link light rail, via Seattle Transit Blog, on Sunday, but it simultaneously makes me excited for a potential new urban village at the I-90 station (one of several options the city's Department of Planning and Development is considering as part of an upcoming comp plan revamp), and bummed about the missed opportunity for a pedestrian-oriented station in South Bellevue.
Lots of great discussion in the comments.
2. KPLU reports that a parking-lot company serving Sea-Tac Airport has fired workers who complained that they weren't being paid the $15 hourly minimum wage adopted by SeaTac voters last year.
Thirteen workers filed complaints when the company, Extra Car Airport Parking, allegedly refused to raise their wages and comply with the law. Five of those workers were subsequently fired. The city of SeaTac is not legally required to enforce the law.
And it isn't: According to a letter to Extra Car from SeaTac city manager Todd Cutts, "the City of SeaTac has not investigated this complaint and therefore is not currently planning any further action."
The workers file a lawsuit in King County Superior Court today against Extra Car for failing to comply with the law.
3. In an editorial about an issue we wish more people were aware of, the Olympian argues that Washington state should get on board with a plan, joined by eight other states so far, that would enable the state to mitigate the $8.6 billion cut to food stamps Congress made as part of the Obama-endorsed Farm Bill this year.
In an editorial about an issue we wish more people were aware of, the Olympian argues that Washington state should get on board with a plan, joined by eight other states so far, that would enable the state to mitigate the $8.6 billion cut to food stamps.
The farm bill reduced the number of households eligible for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) by eliminating a provision of federal law that made all families that receive federal heating assistance eligible for food stamps as well. By raising the threshold for SNAP eligibility to $20 of heating assistance per year, the bill cut food stamp benefits for millions of people. Under the new proposal, states are increasing heating assistance to a minimum of $20.01 a year—making families once again eligible for food stamps.
Republicans in Congress have argued that people who receive food stamps but don't meet the heating assistance threshold are gaming the system. The Olympian lays out the facts: The average household SNAP benefit is $4.25 a day. Half of those receiving food assistance have jobs. Nearly half are children. And 10 percent are senior citizens. Even if you believe, as many Republicans do, that people aren't entitled to food, it's hard to argue that workers, elderly people, and helpless children constitute the "undeserving poor."
Just 10 percent of those "young" minimum-wage workers fit the teenage-fast-food-worker stereotype; the rest are inarguably young adults.
4. Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour would raise the pay of nearly a quarter of all Seattle workers, according to a new study that was presented to Mayor Ed Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee today, the Seattle Times reports. That's more than 100,000 Seattle workers. The change would mostly impact people who work in hotel and food-services jobs—the same industries that have, not surprisingly, been most vocally opposed to a higher minimum.
The story, unfortunately, is accompanied by some pretty misleading graphics, which trumpet that Seattle's minimum-wage workers are "mostly ... Young, white, educated, [and] female." While all four of those claims are literally true (well, except the "young" claim—a minority of 48 percent, according to the Times' own graph, are actually 24 or younger), the charts don't make clear that, for example, while more than 70 percent of Seattle is white, just 58 percent of minimum-wage workers are, meaning that minorities are overrepresented in the minimum-wage population.
Similarly, the claim that most minimum-wage workers are "young" elides the difference between the Times' two "young" age categories—"under 19" and "19-24." Just 10 percent of those "young" minimum-wage workers fit the teenage-fast-food-worker stereotype; the rest are inarguably young adults. Another way the Times might have framed this data: "90 percent of minimum-wage workers are adults."
And finally, calling minimum-wage workers, as a group, well-"educated" is highly misleading. Look more closely, and you'll see that just 20 percent have a bachelor's degree—the standard minimum requirement for a professional job. Yes, 40 percent have "some college," but you don't earn points on your resume by dropping out. Overall, the Times' illustrations provide just another demonstration of how easy it is to misrepresent data with splashy headlines and colorful pie charts.