Dept. of Labor Rejects Fed Data, Favors Leftwing Spin on Minimum Wage

In a fact sheet about the minimum wage, the U.S. Department of Labor relied on data from a leftwing policy research center and ignored data compiled by the Congressional Budget Office and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Minimum Wage Mythbusters” is a section of the Department of Labor website that seeks to debunk arguments against raising the federal minimum wage. The webpage does not source the data it uses in “busting” the supposed myths about the minimum wage, but an internet search of the statistics found that most of them originate at the leftwing Economic Policy Institute, and happen to directly contradict research and data compiled by official government researchers and statisticians.

“Myth: Increasing the minimum wage will cause people to lose their jobs,” states the DOL website. “A review of 64 studies on minimum wage increase found no discernible effect on employment,” the DOL claims to counter the “myth.” Oddly, even as the DOL claims 64 studies claim no effect on employment, a 2014 report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects that up to one million people could lose their job with an increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Interestingly, the 64 study claim is used by a non-governmental group that also works as a part-time apologist for Obama Administration economic policy: the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

The EPI is a liberal “think tank” used to produce economic data that paints a rosy picture of liberal policies. The EPI’s Board of Directors is chaired by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and according to the liberal New York Times has donors that include nearly 20 labor unions. Just last month Media Trackers caught the EPI coordinating a minimum wage study with the labor front group Wisconsin Jobs Now and the University of Wisconsin’s Center on Wisconsin Strategy – a self-described “think-to-do tank” used as a “research” arm for the Left and labor unions.

In the same response to the so-called myth that increasing the minimum wage cost jobs, the DOL notes, “more than 600 economists, seven of them Nobel Prize winners in economics, have signed onto a letter in support of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016.” The letter was released and touted by EPI, and included eight economists associated with EPI.

Conveniently, the DOL does not mention that a group of 500 economists, including four Nobel Prize winners, have signed onto a letter warning against raising the minimum wage.

In challenging the claim that raising the minimum wage would only benefit teens, the DOL states, “88 percent of those who would benefit from a federal minimum wage increase are age 20 or older….”

But according to the DOL’s own Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24.2% of minimum wage workers are between 16 and 19 years of age. In fact, according to the BLS, “Although workers under age 25 represented only about one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up about half of those paid the federal minimum wage or less.” The BLS also declares, “Minimum wage workers tend to be young.”

Once again it appears the DOL took this claim from EPI. A 2013 EPI “Economic Snapshot” claims, “88 percent of workers who would benefit from a higher minimum wage are older than 20.” The EPI’s 88% claim relies on EPI’s own analysis of Census and BLS survey data. Why the DOL would use the EPI’s analysis instead of asking its own BLS to analyze the survey data itself is odd to say the least.

In another “myth” the DOL states, “Small business owners can’t afford to pay their workers more, and therefore don’t support an increase in the minimum wage.” To declare this a myth the DOL relies on an unsourced survey from June of 2014 claiming 3 in 5 small business owners support raising the minimum wage to $10.10. An internet search shows that the survey is likely a joint survey done on June 4-10, 2014, by the American Sustainable Business Council and Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.

The American Sustainable Business Council “promotes a sustainable economy” which it describes as an economy that “provides economic development along with shared prosperity, environmental protection, and social justice.” The ASBC is a left-leaning group according to TheHill.com, that has put out polls claiming overwhelming small business support on issues like stronger regulations on carbon emissions and controversial plans by the Environmental Protection Agency to expand water regulations.

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a “loose liberal coalition” according to Roll Call. BFMW is run by minimum wage activist and author Holly Sklar. Sklar happens to also sit on the ASBC board.

While the U.S. Department of Labor houses perhaps the most respected and comprehensive source for labor statistics in the country – the Bureau of Labor Statistics – it’s revealing that they need to use data from liberal groups rather than the BLS and CBO to make their case to increase the minimum wage.