Confront the ‘parasite economy’ by raising the minimum wage

Every three months, the ADP Research Institute releases its Workforce Vitality Index, a measure of private sector job and wage growth. For the past two quarters, Washington state has led the nation in growing jobs and boosting wages, far outpacing the national average and such states as Texas, Florida, and California.

Why does this matter? Because Washington state has one of the highest minimum wages in the nation at $9.47 an hour. And since April 2015, the city of Seattle has been moving towards a $15 minimum wage, with the current minimum ranging from $10.50 to $13 depending on employer size. As the Workforce Vitality Index shows, businesses in Seattle and Washington state are thriving and generating more employment. Seattle’s restaurant industry — which fought the wage laws fiercely — is continuing to add jobs.

The simple explanation is laid out by Nick Hanauer, a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist from Washington state, in an insightful article in The American Prospect magazine titled “Confronting the Parasite Economy.” Hanauer argues that paying workers decent wages is good for business and good for the economy as a whole. He writes, “When workers have more money, businesses have more customers. And when businesses have more customers, they create more jobs.” To take the restaurant industry as an example, higher wages lead to more disposable income that workers and their families can spend on eating out in restaurants.