Testing the Boundaries of the Minimum

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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98 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Aren’t states supposed to be the laboratories of democracies? If conservatives can use their states to test the limits of conservative economic philosophy repeatedly even though we get the same dismal results every time, can’t liberals do the same?Report

    • That seems to be Will’s point.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        I guess the opening sentence got to me in the wrong way. It seems to suggest that Republican states experimenting with ridiculously low taxes and cut services is better than blue states experimenting with high wages.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          I think you caught a whiff of Will not thinking much of the Blue state experimentations, and it colored your perception of his conclusion (which is it’s better to let a state succeed or fail first at something big than the whole country).Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I think that Missouri legislature banned local raises in the minimum wage to spite St. Louis and to a certain extent Kansas City. The ban was attached to a bill that had nothing to do with the minimum wage and from what I’ve read, the Missouri legislature takes delight in making things difficult as people for the residents of St. Louis.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    “Anchor business will never leave”.

    Sure…

    Boeing moved a lot of work outside of Washington state. The state used the company as an ATM. Maryland raised taxes significantly on higher income folks and, shocking, a lot of those folks left the state. The tax rolls prove it. Hell, the state and counties were even unwilling to credit residents for income earned outside the state and already taxed by other states. It took a court case. New York, MD, and other high sin tax states see increased smuggling, especially after they impose significantly higher taxes. We saw that with folks crossing the Hudson and smuggling taxes and I saw it from the guy at work who drove to North Carolina, bought cigs and sold them in the factory.

    There are limits. Yes, the repercussions take time but people respond to stuff like this….Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      Damon,

      There are limits. Yes, the repercussions take time but people respond to stuff like this….

      Yep. Given what Brownback and crew have done in Kansas, cutting education funds while raising taxes on the poor and middle class to preserve tax cuts for Chuck and Dave, I’m seriously considering moving. I’m one of those people that can literally live anywhere without a job related hassle.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Right now, Kansas is a leader in outmigration; http://cjonline.com/news/2015-01-02/more-people-moving-out-kansas-other-states-study-finds

        Latest beige book report sort of puts the Kansas City district as the exception to growth in just about every category; trucking and IT being exceptions. (I know, Kansas is not Kansas City, MO, but that’s the federal reserve office that reports on Kansas for these reports.)

        The Federal Reserve’s website reports look gloomy: https://www.kansascityfed.org/research/indicatorsdata

        If you click through to the Kansas reports, there’s slowing in most sectors, but low unemployment, so wage pressures; lower-end housing seems strong, there’s slack in the high end, which would indicate that tax cuts for the wealthy are not encouraging them to trade their homes up. Energy production is obviously hurting the state.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          Meanwhile, Maryland is still the richest state in the Union and the economy of high tax California seems to be doing wonderful. The drought is causing more problems than taxes.Report

          • Avatar Notme says:

            MD has all of the wokers from the fed gov and associated businesses to sponge off of.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            “Meanwhile, Maryland is still the richest state in the Union”

            It helps that there are no plans to move the US Capitol to St Louis or Kansas City (even though we probably should have sometime in the 20th century)

            edit: oh and the richest county in Maryland? Howard County – home of Ft. Meade, whose main tenant is the NSA.Report

            • (even though we probably should have sometime in the 20th century)

              Huzzah!Report

            • Avatar Notme says:

              Sen Byrd was trying to move the fed gov one agency at a time to west Virginia.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Being that it is nearby Washington, and significantly cheaper, it’s a wise move, even with the porkiness that anything Byrd implies.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Oddly enough, Byrd himself is still inside the Beltway. (He’s buried in the same cemetery as some family members are, with a rather prominent stone near the main entrance)Report

              • At the risk of straying too far from Trumanverse, we live within proximity to Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. When we were house-hunting, housing from each state came up. People will apparently pay a roughly 25% premium not to live in West Virginia. One side of the state line versus the other. (There seems to be a mild premium for living in Virginia instead of Maryland, but it’s murkier.)Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Virginia is not quite as rich on a per-capita income level as Maryland (though close), but has a more uniform level of education funding across the state. Thus it is less susceptible than Maryland’s ed budgets are to the oolies of individual counties. I don’t know how West Virginia funds things, but I got to think it’s at a lower level than either MD or VA.Report

              • It also doesn’t hurt that the applicable county in Virginia is Loudoun County.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Oh, ok, Loudoun is its own thing nowadays. (Fed contractors wanting to play at being country gentility on the west side, working class squeezed into somewhat still affordable tract townhouses on the east side). I thought your alternatives would be on the far side of the Blue Ridge based on where I think you are talking about (my fiancee’s brother lives in that general area too).Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              St. Louis and Kansas City were already too built up to become a new capital and rebuilding them into something that looks more like a capital city would have been prohibitively expensive. A significant chunk of Washington was planned to look like grand and impressive from the start.Report

          • In case anyone’s interested, I want to share that we spend roughly zero to five cumulative minutes in the MBA curriculum talking about specific taxes and tax rates as a reason for locating oneself somewhere rather than somewhere else. If you have to pay taxes, you’ve already passed the first hurdle of making money. The hard part of selecting projects is identifying which ones are actually going to give you positive returns at all. Additionally, things like access to factors of production and customers usually overwhelm differences in tax rates.

            It doesn’t help that talking about tax rates would probably be pretty boring relative to talking about strategy and competition.

            None of this is to say I think tax rates and regulations don’t matter at all. They do at the margin. But it isn’t everything. California would have imploded a long time ago if that were all that mattered.Report

            • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

              I think that this is a mistake that individuals who are investing their private money make all the time. There is a sort of irrational hatred of the IRS out there, and there are lots of financial schemes invented to profit from that irrational hatred.

              For instance, I once sat through a pitch for life insurance as a means of estate planning. At the time I was about 50 years old, and my wife is significantly younger. So I asked the guy why I would tie my money up for a long time for a mediocre return, and his reply was, “Well, at least the IRS won’t get it.”

              Anyway, I endorse what you’re saying. First of all, make money.Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko says:

              California has, viewed as a whole, about average taxation rates.

              Try Connecticut. We don’t have an “intangibles tax” here in California.Report

          • Avatar Damon says:

            Quite true.

            And in addition to all the posts above about the gov’t facilities, etc., they still have a massive budget deficit. A significant portion of the wealthiest (ie highest income earning taxpayers) LEFT the state after the massive tax increase. This is backed up by tax data.

            You saw this in New York state. My corporation had a huge presence in Buffalo. 7 years ago it was nothing, and we finally eliminated it all a few years ago. Why? Too expensive. Where’s all the work now? Northern VA, Florida, etc.

            Montgomery County Md, always in the top richest counties is OVERTLY hostile to new business in terms of permits, etc. They seem to think that they only need the DC taxpayer basis. Perhaps that’s why higher income people are leaving that county?Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Re: Anchor Businesses.

    Are there any studies on whether it easier or harder to move a business based on the skill-level of the employee? I can see why moving unskilled manufacturing is relatively easy. The exception being that building factories is a huge upfront cost and it takes years to do so. White-collar labor is theoretically easier to move but they are also more likely to demand assistance in moving. Does Aetna want to relocate hundreds or thousands of white-collar professionals with institutional knowledge? You can force an individual to relocate but it seems much harder to move an entire company.

    I think we use jobs as another proxy for the red and blue culture war. I remember reading a bunch of conservatives who just did not understand why all the tech companies were located in the San Francisco-Bay Area. They jumped up and down about how tech companies should move to a low cost place like South Dakota or Montana. It never seemed to occur to them that the Bay Area has a lot of things that are likely to attract top talent because that would be conceding a point to the dreaded liberals.Report

    • The most likely alternative to Connecticut is not South Dakota or Montana, but another relatively urban state somewhere. Could be another blue state, could be an urban blue state like Texas or Utah. Hard to say.

      Speaking of South Dakota, that state is very much indicative of how favorable regulations can put white-collar business in your state that otherwise wouldn’t be there. I don’t think the banks are there for the weather…

      For that matter, Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley in part due to the lower costs and favorable regulatory environment it had in comparison with Boston at the time it became Silicon Valley. The weather also helped. Silicon Valley isn’t relocating any time soon, though the tech companies have taken advantage of other states and attempts to lure new jobs elsewhere have not been wholly unsuccessful (Texas, Utah, and Kansas City being places I see mentioned quite a bit).

      We’ll see what happens with regard to Connecticut. Maybe they’ll suck it up. Corporations often do, for a variety of reasons that make it better than the alternatives. Connecticut seems to be asking a lot, though, even for a blue state.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        “Speaking of South Dakota, that state is very much indicative of how favorable regulations can put white-collar business in your state that otherwise wouldn’t be there. I don’t think the banks are there for the weather…”

        Well, yes, and the Mob would move to Montana and incorporate if they removed the laws against protection rackets and there was no national level laws about it.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        I think that if places like Texas, Utah, or Kansas City (MO or Kansas) really want to attract tech companies that they really need to reduce the culture wars in their politics. Bans of same-sex marriage, creationism and abstinence based sex education in public schools, and even transportation spending and land use policies that favor that favors cars and sprawl over bikes and urban neighborhoods so on is not going to attract tech industry at all regardless of the low taxes and cost of living. People who work in tech companies from bottom to top tend to be at less socially liberal, secular, and really turned off by culture war politics. So even if the economic policies are right, the social politics could work at disadvantage.

        Texas and Utah are probably better off because the state legislatures usually seem to have the good sense to let their Democratic cities and counties be Democratic. Missouri and Kansas legislatures seem to take delight in making things hard for the Democratic cities and counties out of spite. Even if tech companies move to places like Texas, Utah, Missouri or Kansas, it would probably be to a Democratic part of those states.

        Honestly, if tech companies do move I would think it would be more likely to go to places like Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maine and the other small Democratic states than the really Republican ones.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          You mean like Arizona, where Intel is building it’s crazy factory?
          “land use policies that favor that favors cars and sprawl over bikes and urban neighborhoods so on ”
          … you’ve not listened to a single thing Chris has ever said about Austin, have you?

          Pittsburgh pulls in its fair share of tech. What you want is a literate, well-read population — and Delaware don’t got it. Vermont’s a bit small, in terms of population (seriously! I’ve been there!).Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            Of all the crazy conspiracies you’ve spouted off about, that there’s really a place called “Vermont” I believe the least.Report

          • While Texas and Utah might indeed do better to cool down the culture wars, there’s a reason they’re getting some of the jobs. It’s not about “big vs small” but “expensive vs less expensive vs cheap” (which, as I say to DrJ below, taxes are only a part of the equation and not a particularly huge one). Vermont and Delaware aren’t cheap, and the small hurts rather than helps (you actually want urban). Maine’s climate is likely an issue, and it has a conservative streak to boot.

            Which is why we find ourselves talking about other states, including red Utah and Texas but also blue Washington and Oregon and purple Colorado. And, sure, Pittsburgh, which is both educated and has cheap land available. (Washington is expensive, though that’s actually a case where tax law may actually help. Or maybe it just passes under the high “cheaper than SV” bar.)

            It makes sense for tech employers to be in SV because that’s where a lot of talent wants to live. But it also makes sense for them to be in the other places, because others among them want to raise families (or simply want to live closer to home, in some cases).Report

    • Avatar aaron david says:

      I would think what you said about law firms outsourcing lower level work to the south would crop up in your comment here @saul-degraw ?

      It isn’t an all at once move, it is a little bit here, little bit there type thing. All of those tech companies on the peninsula? How much are they manufacturing there? And as they need additional labor force (low level white and pink collar) are they setting it up in the bay? Or in Georgia? My company used to own one of the largest buildings west of the Mississippi, in San Ramon. They sold it, rent back a quarter of it and have moved most of those jobs that were there to the south. Or India and the Philippines. Boeing will keep its factories in Seattle, but will outsource data processing and call centers, as they don’t need to be there and there isn’t a major capitol investment in land for those actions. And as robotics becomes cheaper and more versatile, will use that more and more.

      When a company needs talent, it will go to were the talent is. When talent needs a company, it goes to the company.

      I do think @leeesq is right in that each state needs to be able to set its economic policies. But they really need to be aware that there will be side effects, good and bad.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        @aaron-david

        Support services, yes. Associate and Partner jobs=no. I haven’t seen any firm small or big, talk about moving their entire operation to West Virginia. Now the bar rules prevent law firms from being as moveable. You can open a new office but you need lawyers who are barred in that state to run it. I don’t think Cadwalader will keep their Wall Street clients by moving to West Virginia. Small plaintiff’s firms also like being in big cities usually too.Report

        • Avatar aaron david says:

          But that is what I am talking about @saul-degraw The principles will stay in the desirable urban areas, while the interchangeable parts will get shipped out. A three doller an hour jump costs a company 6k a year per employee. That adds up quick.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      Saul,

      While not directly on point, I’d refer you to firearm companies that decided to pull out of “increasingly hostile” states in terms of gun control. Colorado and Magpul are an example. And I think there’s talk of a company in the Northeast as well. That’s not heavy manufacturing, but it’s manufacturing none the less. And it does take time. Several years, but you first move the easy stuff.

      “You can force an individual to relocate but it seems much harder to move an entire company.” All I can say is, oh yes, and it’s been done. The first day I showed up for work in my current industry, I walked into a new building that was 10% occupied. The prior year, the company told everyone in the building “you’re job in now in Florida. See you in two weeks or you fired.” Only managers were offered relocation plans. A LOT of people moved. And anyone that didn’t? Well, there’s a lot of labor savings between paying an accountant in Northern VA and Orlando Florida.

      “institutional knowledge”? I’ve rarely seen any company I’ve worked for give a damn about that. The employees might as it’s critical to do their job, but management doesn’t necessarily think so. I don’t recall how many times I’ve been contacted with a question about a certain company I worked for (I’m one of 3 left with any knowledge of this company and it’s early history) only to find that someone new asking that some question a few months later. Why? They guy who asked me first was fired.Report

      • On the other hand, California literally shut Sri Racha down for a time, and they don’t seem to plan to move.

        I think Saul is right that out-and-out relocation is expensive and difficult and it’s going to be limited mostly to edge cases.

        But… “You won’t dare move” is something that I’d be pretty careful about taking for granted. Connecticut is playing some serious hardball, and companies that are already interstate like Aetna and GE could more conceivably say “We’re moving our headquarters and select personnel to Florida” without disrupting business on the same order as a Sri Racha move. And while Sri Racha didn’t relocate, Toyota did and didn’t even take the particular easy road.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Damon: “institutional knowledge”? I’ve rarely seen any company I’ve worked for give a damn about that.

        I’ll offer Boeing as a counter example. Although Boeing management did it to themselves decades ago & will spend many more years of pain before they’ve found a way to lick the institutional knowledge problem.Report

        • When I was in college, in business class it seemed to be taken for granted that it was smart for companies to lay off experienced personnel and replace them with college grads willing to work for less money. It did not take me very long to discover that this is usually (though not always) a very, very bad idea.

          You can’t treat employees like clogs unless the company actually works like clockwork.Report

          • Avatar morat20 says:

            Interestingly enough, when I worked for NASA contractors they were VERY paranoid about ‘institutional knowledge’. But then NASA’s particular fortunes waxed and waned with the fads of Congress, and over the 80s and early 90s they had several painful encounters with such knowledge being lost (and having to hire them back as consultants, if they were alive, to at least convey it).

            A coworker once told me he’d spent almost a month tracing back by why a certain decision had been made, 15 or so years before — something his predecessor could have rattled off in a few seconds. If he hadn’t done the work, they’d have found out the expensive way.

            In coding it’s a bit more obvious — nobody ever really documents their code. So when that guy quits, it takes forever to figure out some of the weird decisions that were made and why they’re there. (I still struggle with one, very old school, coder’s weird variable naming scheme. It fell out of favor because it made debugging painful, because all the variable names are very, very, very similar.)Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              I can share some stories too.

              Fired all the accountants because the A/P facility from a recently acquired company had amazing throughput statistics on processing a/p checks and travel reimbursements.

              Whoops. They don’t do travel audit. Sorta kinda needed when you’re working for the Pentagon. Rehired all the previously fired a/p folks as consultants at triple the salary. That’s Harvard MBA smarts in action!Report

          • Avatar Murali says:

            @will-truman

            You can’t treat employees like clogs

            Well, employees are there to be stepped on…Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            I think when it comes to institutional knowledge, a lot of it depends on how old the company is, how long the product lifecycle is, how rapidly & often product &/or process change happens, and how committed the company is to capturing & storing knowledge.

            A company that has short product life cycles & constant shakeups can more easily discount institutional knowledge than one with long lifecycles & deeply set ways.Report

            • Avatar morat20 says:

              Unless their products are iterative. Losing knowledge on an iterative process results in reinventing the wheel. Or worse, breaking the wheel and then having to reinvent the wheel because you didn’t think the wheel was a critical part. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I guess I consider iterations on a product part of the continuous lifecycle.

                Boeing has product lifecycles measured in decades, from conception to retirement, 50-60 years can pass easily, and the products are iterative, with regard to lessons learned.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    This should have been the post pic, just sayin’.Report

  6. Avatar Murali says:

    minimum wage hikes can also have long term effects which are larger than the initial small or even negligible short term effects. Businesses may be reluctant to locate into those areas and they may recover from economic shocks at a slower pace, with gains over time accruing to the rich. The reason should be relatively obvious. Relocating is expensive and is not costless. The quantum of a minimum wage hike would have to be huge in order to make relocating away make sense. But suppose a company downsizes for other reasons (e.g recession), the expected profit margin at which the CEO would be willing to expand again may not occur so easily, now that at least some of the jobs are now more costly. This should result in what you see in a lot of high minimum wage locales. Places which have a higher minimum wage would tend to have higher unemployment levels (everything else equal), but longitudinal studies will fail to show any significant jump in unemployment as a result of minimum wage hikesReport

    • longitudinal studies will fail to show any significant jump in unemployment as a result of minimum wage hikes

      That deals largely with small hikes, though. Which is one of the things that makes recent events so interesting. A large-scale hike hasn’t been seen in the US since Puerto Rico, where it may have adversely affected employment and/or may have avoided a bigger hit through significant out-migration.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I admit, the giant jump wouldn’t be my choice. I’d increase it over a period of four or five years until I hit the target rate, myself.Report

        • The plans all do include a ramp-up period. Seattle, I think, has different ramp-ups for different kinds of businesses (3 years versus 7, or maybe it’s 5 vs 7) which has caused some consternation about which businesses fall into which category. That’s still a jarring raise, in my view, especially for places like St Louis and Kansas City.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        Right, but my point is that the immediate effect is almost always smaller. Minimum wage jobs are usually fast food and manufacturing* (more often the former). As mentioned earlier, there are huge upfront costs to moving a factory. So, it is unclear whether this particular hike may force them to relocate. But we should expect these places to experience slower economic recovery after a downturn. And we should expect fewer companies to want to relocate there.

        *Also janitorial, but that rarely takes up a significant portion of the payroll budget in a company.Report

  7. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Because I have a friend that works there, I am aware that Charles Schwab is moving a lot of its operations out of San Francisco to places like Arizona and Colorado. This is a move to control expenses, but those expenses aren’t primarily taxes, and they certainly aren’t minimum wage.

    The fact is that Schwab is a mature business, and there are a lot more people in CO and AZ these days who have the IT skills they need, and there are a certain number of people here who would be ok with moving there because they could buy a much nicer house.

    Not the same thing as “moving because the minimum wage was raised or because taxes are high”. I see a lot of incorrect attribution about this (not Schwab in particular, just this sort of thing). People seem eager to blame California’s tax policy for stuff like this. But it never makes sense when you look at it closely.Report

    • I agree with this. Taxes are properly viewed as one aspect of the costs of doing business. It’s not nothing, of course, but California’s bigger problem – to the extent that they have one – is overall cost.

      I think the minimum wage is especially unlikely to cause businesses to move because minimum wage jobs tend to be with hyperlocal institutions. Union regulations and such can (though does not always) make a difference, but as you say moving is expensive so the difference is more likely to be where they locate additional facilities rather than relocating existing ones. (And labor costs, like tax costs, are just specific aspects of the larger “cost of doing business.”)Report

  8. Avatar morat20 says:

    On a random note, I think one reason people are less excitable about the minimum wage is how incredibly low it is, right now, compared to it’s historical highs (adjusted for inflation). In short, nobody’s really breaking new ground — they’re just returning to old ground (and not even old ground that was deliberately left. It’s not like anyone deliberately lowered it or stopped indexing it to inflation).

    So maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t, but we have an actual history in America with that level (and higher) of minimum wage and the sky didn’t fall — and fairly recently, in the last 40 or 50 years.

    I think very few states are really going off the rails and trying something really new — Kansas might be the closest, and it’s more just hitting an extreme that’s not been seen in the last half century or so.Report

    • That dog don’t hunt. Even adjusted for inflation, a $12/hr national minimum wage would be the highest we’ve ever had, by at least over a dollar an hour [1][2][3]. For good or for ill, a $12 or $15 minimum wage – even seven years from now – is breaking new ground for us.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Huh, could have sworn it was higher than that. I guess the memory is the first to go. 🙂

        I’d love to see a breakdown of, say, the % workers of folks on minimum wage in the 50s or 60s versus now, and a breakdown of inflation adjusted median wages.

        My impression is right now we have a lot more people making just minimum wage than we used to, and that more of them are full-time as opposed to part-time. (In short, minimum wage isn’t just for teenagers. If it ever was).Report

        • Well, in your defense, what you say has been sort of true until recently. By which I mean, until recently, almost all of the minimum wage hikes have been within the range of historical norms. That was true of the original $9/hr proposal. It was at least arguably true of $10.10. But when it shifted to $12 and $15 we were in new territory. (Mostly. It is arguably the case that in LA and Seattle, cost of living is so high that it’s not incomparable. Which is part of why the alarm bells aren’t going off for me with regard to those cities. It’s still… untreaded ground, but not in the same way that St. Louis or KC would be, or a $12 national.)Report

  9. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Last time we had a minimum wage discussion, I posited a scheme by which minimum wage was tied to local cost of living (as determined by zip code). Pick a baseline, set a COL factor from that baseline using a set of publicly available metrics (e.g. tax burdens, housing prices, fuel costs, HVAC needs, etc.), and adjust the minimum wage accordingly. Since the delta of the cost of living doesn’t change much from zip code to zip code, except potentially at state lines, there would not be too much shock for small movements.

    I could see a lot more commuting happening, though, with people living far outside of a major urban core for the lower COL & then commuting in for the higher wages, but that already happens, so I’m not sure how much it would add to it.Report

    • If you’re making minimum wage, the commute costs are likely to eat up your gains pretty quickly.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Agreed, but yet it happens, which tells me either folks making minimum wage are bad at math & budgets, or the marginal gains are worth it to them.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Not in Atlanta. That place is broken.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            How is Atlanta broken?Report

            • Previously because it was a desert, but I think this is in a reference to sprawl and the driving culture?Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              Workforce mobility issues, specifically in transportation across the city/suburbs.

              Most places (even Pittsburgh, which has a lot of bridges and tunnels) you have one sphere of “here’s where work is” that people can get to. Put your business in the middle, and you get everyone who can work.

              Atlanta’s not so much like that. its tough to get from one side to the other…Report

              • Most places (even Pittsburgh, which has a lot of bridges and tunnels) you have one sphere of “here’s where work is” that people can get to. Put your business in the middle, and you get everyone who can work.

                A lot of cities aren’t like that.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Name some others?Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Atlanta’s traffic is awful and its public transportation limited, but I’ve known many people who’ve lived there, including 2 of my 3 siblings. One lived and worked in midtown, the other lived near midtown and worked in Hapeville. Neither had a problem. It’s better than Houston or even Seattle.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                (It’s way better than Austin, but then anything’s better than Austin. Every time I try to write a post on lessons from Austin’s transportation debates, I get so pissed off that it ends up just being me complaining about how stupid this city is.)Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Might have something to do with the amount of pay going on, as well. If you pay someone enough, they’ll commute from Scranton, PA to NYC, after all, and that’s two hours each way.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Cities worse than Atlanta:

                Houston
                Dallas
                Pretty much every major city in California north of L.A, including San Fran and San Jose
                L.A.
                Seattle
                Miami
                Chi-Town
                Austin
                New York
                Honolulu
                Portland
                D.C.
                Boston
                Philly

                Atlanta has the potential to get better. New York, L.A., Philly, San Fran, D.C., Boston? They’re pretty much fished until people realize that cars are evil and illiberal and stop giving them any weight in planning.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Out of curiosity, did they STAY in Atlanta? I have some relatives there, and one or two friends from HS roughly in the area, but I also know a shocking # of people who went to ATL for a period of time, then got the heck out.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                They did not, but my sister and her husband desperately wanted to, as they love it. They probably go back once every couple months at least to hang out with friends. My brother-in-law was laid off , and found a job in Nashville, otherwise they’d still be there.

                My brother liked Atlanta, but he didn’t love it, so when his wife got a great offer in Nashville, he moved there with her without thinking twice about it. Now both my brother and sister live within 10 minutes of my parents, which, if you knew my mother… (my other brother lives in Eugene, and I’m 15 hours away.)Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Yeah, it could be more a “people in their twenties move to a big city for a while, then move back out” thing more than an ATL-specific thing, since to a degree my NYC friends have also all mostly fled the city.

                It’s just that for a while it seemed like ALL my friends were either in ATL or NYC; and then within a couple years, NONE of them were.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Somehow I moved to a medium-sized city and now live in a major one without going anywhere. I so want to move somewhere you can see the stars at night.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                They “twinkle”!

                It’s alright, if you like that sort of thing.Report

              • I remember when I first moved to Deseret. At one point I was driving around (I hadn’t been there long) and was at a stop-light. I poked my head out the window for some reason and saw the unmolested sky for what may have been the first time in my life. I immediately pulled over got out of my car, and literally said “Oh, my God.”

                I am not in the least bit a nature person.

                That said, it wasn’t that stars were foreign to me. I mean, I could see some of them when I was raised. But I’d never seen – or never really looked at – the sky without any light pollution (except, presumably, that stop light).

                I don’t remember where I was going, or when it was. But I’ll always remember that sense of awe.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Tell me you’ll hit Cherry Springs for the Star party!Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                It is spectacular, and deep. And completely invisible from here.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        You could probably predict with a high degree of certainty how many people you’d have coming from different areas outside of the local one with a particular increase, based on transportation costs. You could factor that into any calculations you’d want to make about its impact, then.Report

        • As Oscar points out, that does hinge on “if people behave rationally…”

          But really, the notion of commuting any significant for a minimum wage job seems odd to me. Even if the minimum wage is higher, it’s not likely to be that much higher, because cost-of-living is more of a spectrum than a here vs there. You might get some interesting activity right along the city or county lines, but even then…

          OTOH hand, Oscar says it’s happening and this involves areas of society where my exposure is limited to a particular place and time.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            I think it happens more because people outside of the city lose their jobs & go to the city for work (because that is where the jobs are), but for reasons can not relocate to be closer to the city. But that does not mean that folks living outside the city could not see a minimum wage hike as a way to make more money if the numbers work out right (perhaps they have an efficient vehicle, or can car pool, or work an off-shift so traffic is a non-issue).Report

  10. Avatar LWA says:

    The debates over taxes and minimum wage generally tend to overstate the impact on businesses profitability.

    Given all the other variables such as energy cost, fuel and transportation, commercial rent, liability insurance, and so on; As well as location specific factors like access to transportation, infrastructure quality, skilled labor pool, client base.

    Given all these factors, a few percentage point increase in tax or minimum wage is only rarely the deciding factor of where to locate.

    I would argue, only half facetiously, that the proper way to view taxes is “what the market will bear”- The optimum tax rate is what produces the greatest revenue while minimizing business flight.

    You want access to the vibrant economic hub that is Los Angeles, with its infrastructure and intense aggregation of Fortune 500 firms and pool of skilled labor? You gotta pay for that.Report

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