Next time you find yourself in an argument with someone who says raising the minimum wage will kill jobs and hurt the economy—even if that argument is really you muttering under your breath while reading an interview with a Republican politician—here’s an example to bring up. The first city in the country to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage was SeaTac, Washington, in 2013. And yes, opponents howled that it would be bad for business. But the New York Times reports that, instead, SeaTac is in the middle of a hotel-building boom, with nine new hotels coming to the city.
Michael H. Mahoney, president of the Dallas-based development company Western International, said his company had not built anything in the Seattle area for more than 10 years, but it was drawn to SeaTac because some available property there bordered a lake and the light rail system had just been built. Business travelers can stay near the airport where it is a bit less expensive than in downtown Seattle, he said, “and close to their flight home,” but they still have easy access to downtown for meetings or entertainment.
He said he considered the $15 minimum wage before deciding to go ahead with a 176-room Residence Inn by Marriott that is scheduled to open next spring, but it was not the determining factor. “We are competing for quality people seeking the best jobs, so would likely have been at that threshold anyway,” he said.
“There’s a lot of noise” about higher minimum wages, he said, but he decides whether to enter an area based on an overall favorable economic outlook. If the area is not doing well, “we’re not going in there,” he said, so wages are not generally a factor.
What do you know. Yet another piece of evidence all those Republican talking points about disappearing jobs and suffering businesses are just scare tactics.