Explain Campbell's job-loss numbers, Steelworkers urge Chamber



    BURNABY, BC, May 6 /CNW/ - Premier Gordon Campbell cites the BC Chamber
of Commerce to support claims that a higher minimum wage will kill jobs. But
the Chamber either cannot or will not explain those numbers, say United
Steelworkers.
    Using information he attributes to the Chamber, Campbell says NDP leader
Carole James' proposed $2 raise in the minimum wage - BC's is now Canada's
lowest - would kill jobs. But repeated calls to the Chamber weren't returned,
says USW research representative Kim Pollock.
    "I've been calling for days," Pollock said today. "I was told to speak
directly to policy specialist Jon Garson. I've left messages with staff and on
his voice mail: no reply.
    "It matters because this is the Premier's position on a key issue. He
says his research came from the BC Chamber of Commerce. People expect them to
explain their research. If they can't or won't, you start to wonder about how
reliable the Premier's response can be."
    Campbell says that James' minimum-wage hike would cost businesses $450
million and eliminate 50,000 jobs. But Pollock points to a lot of research
that comes to very different conclusions. "In fact, economic thinking has
recently changed a lot," he says. As former US Federal Reserve Vice-Chair and
Princeton economist Alan Blinder wrote in 2006's tenth edition of his
economics textbook:

    
    "Elementary economic reasoning... suggests that setting a minimum
    wages.., above the free- market wage... must cause unemployment... Indeed
    earlier editions of this book, for example, confidently told students
    that a higher minimum wage must lead to higher unemployment. But some
    surprising economic research published in the 1990s cast serious doubt on
    this conventional wisdom."
    

    In 2006 current US Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke added that
"economists disagree about... whether increases in the minimum wage reduce
employment of low-wage workers."
    A considerable number of recent studies show that minimum-wage increases
seem to have little or no impact on employment, even in exposed sectors like
food and beverage. After 1997's US federal minimum-wage raise, Nobel Laureate
Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia said: "We saw no ripple effect at all in the
unemployment rate. Unemployment just continued to go down."
    Research on states with higher minimum wages than their neighbours found
little or no impact on employment, even in counties adjoining lower-wage
states. A study comparing employment in high minimum-wage Illinois to lower
minimum-wage Indiana, published in 2008 in the Indiana Business Review,
concludes: "Empirical evidence strongly challenges the conventional wisdom
that increasing the minimum wage hampers employment...," so "we cannot assume
that minimum wage increases will have a negative impact on employment change."
    "If what the Premier attributes to Chamber is what they really say, they
seem to be flying in the face of a large body of credible research," notes
Pollock. ""We'd love to understand how they reached their conclusions. But we
can't if they won't explain it."





For further information:

For further information: Kim Pollock, United Steelworkers, (604)
683-1117


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