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$15 minimum wage would boost pay for 27 million — but it might raise unemployment.
One report claims the trade is better pay for fewer jobs over all. Other reports disagree.
- The Raise the Wage Act has been introduced in Congress. If passed, it will increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2025.
- A report by the Congressional Budget Office warns it may lead to job losses.
- There are plenty of other estimates of what might happen and few of them agree on much.
Unless you haven't been paying much attention to anything over the last few years, you are probably well aware of the "Fight for 15," the movement to increase the minimum wage in the United States to $15 an hour. The slogan has appeared on countless signs in numerous recent strikes, and several presidential candidates have endorsed the campaign.
The movement has won a significant victory with the recent introduction of the Raise the Wage Act in Congress. If passed, it would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 and then tie it to the median income after that. Perhaps this is why two major studies on the subject came out this week with very different conclusions on what would happen if we did raise the minimum wage that much.
A tale of two studies
In response to the bill, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the non-partisan office that estimates the costs and benefits of bills being considered by the government, issued a report on the likely effects of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour in the manner described above. According to the economists at the CBO, this would have a variety of effects on the economy.
It would directly increase the wages of 17 million people and indirectly increase the wages of 10 million more; since hikes in the minimum wage often cause those making just above the new minimum wage to get raises too. This would raise more than a million people out of poverty.
They also predicted that this would lead to the loss of 1.3 million jobs, as low-income work not worth $15 an hour would be phased out. Reductions in the nation's output and increased prices were also on the table.
These estimates are based on 11 studies of what might happen if the minimum wage is increased to that level. Some of the studies predicted little to no effect on employment; others suggested the job losses might reach 3 million. The official CBO estimate represents the median point of these estimates.
Another study was also released earlier this week by economists at UC Berkeley. It found more evidence that the effects on employment caused by raising the minimum wage are minor. It did agree that there would be reductions in poverty, particularly in rural areas.
The findings of this report are not included in the CBO estimates as it was released too recently.
Complicating matters is a massive meta-study examining the effects of local level minimum wage increases over the last few decades. It concluded that minimum wage increases have little to no impact on employment rates.
What do other experts say?
As is often the case in economics, there are a slew of experts who argue for every possible interpretation of the data.
A survey from the Employment Policies Institute found that 72 percent of the economists interviewed thought increasing the minimum wage that much was a bad idea that would lower youth employment rates and harm small businesses.
However, there is also a nice long list of Ph.Ds who went public arguing for the exact opposite conclusions. The head economist of the Labor Department during the Obama years, Heidi Shierholz, directly criticized the new CBO estimate, saying that it "substantially overstates the costs" of a wage increase.
This kind of disagreement is all too common in economics. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman probably put it best in his twitter post on the matter:
"Furthermore, this is no surprise: at this point there's a large body of research on the effects of minimum wage hikes, which shows little if any employment effect in the U.S. context. This literature is very solid, because state actions provide natural experiments... But there's steady drizzle of claims that minimum wage hikes do too kill jobs -- a sort of minimum-wage skeptic literature -- that continues no matter how strong the evidence gets and the usual suspects predict disaster every time a hike is proposed."
So don't expect any kind of agreement on this matter anytime soon, even if the data becomes increasingly clear as time goes by.
The economic effects of raising the minimum wage are highly debated. While the largest and most comprehensive studies on the subject suggest that the adverse effects are limited and the positive results quite notable, these findings remain controversial.
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A cave in France contains man’s earliest-known structures that had to be built by Neanderthals who were believed to be incapable of such things.
In a French cave deep underground, scientists have discovered what appear to be 176,000-year-old man-made structures. That's 150,000 years earlier than any that have been discovered anywhere before. And they could only have been built by Neanderthals, people who were never before considered capable of such a thing.
Water may be far more abundant on the lunar surface than previously thought.
- Scientists have long thought that water exists on the lunar surface, but it wasn't until 2018 that ice was first discovered on the moon.
- A study published Monday used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to confirm the presence of molecular water..
- A second study suggests that shadowy regions on the lunar surface may also contain more ice than previously thought.
Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter<p>Still, it's not as if the moon is dripping wet. The observations suggest that a cubic meter of the lunar surface (in the Clavius crater site, at least) contains water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million. That's roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water. In comparison, the same plot of land in the Sahara desert contains about 100 times more water.</p><p>But a second study suggests other parts of the lunar surface also contain water — and potentially lots of it. Also publishing their findings in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1198-9#_blank" target="_blank">Nature Astronomy</a> on Monday, the researchers used the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to study "cold traps" near the moon's polar regions. These areas of the lunar surface are permanently covered in shadows. In fact, about 0.15 percent of the lunar surface is permanently shadowed, and it's here that water could remain frozen for millions of years.</p><p>Some of these permanently shadowed regions are huge, extending more than a kilometer wide. But others span just 1 cm. These smaller "micro cold traps" are much more abundant than previously thought, and they're spread out across more regions of the lunar surface, according to the new research.</p>
Credit: dottedyeti via AdobeStock<p>Still, the second study didn't confirm that ice is embedded in micro cold traps. But if there is, it would mean that water would be much more accessible to astronauts, considering they wouldn't have to travel into deep, shadowy craters to extract water.</p><p>Greater accessibility to water would not only make it easier for astronauts to get drinking water, but could also enable them to generate rocket fuel and power.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers," said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in the advanced exploration systems division for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, in a statement. "If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries."</p>