EPI Questions Use of Biased Berkeley Researchers for Independent Study of LA Wage Proposal

  • Publication Date: January 2015

  • Topics: Minimum Wage

For Immediate Release
January 12, 2015
Employment Policies Institute
Contact: Jordan Bruneau
(202) 463-7650

EPI Questions Use of Biased Berkeley Researchers for Independent Study of LA Wage Proposal

Highlights Research Team’s Past Associations and Past Suspect Methodology

WASHINGTON, DC – The Employment Policies Institute today called for skepticism in using a team of biased researchers affiliated with the University of California-Berkeley to conduct an independent study of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed $13.25 minimum wage rate.

A review of recent reports from the Berkeley affiliated organization reveals that it biases its recommendations in favor of higher minimum wages. For instance, in a methodology paper explaining the group’s approach to examining citywide minimum wage increases, it says that the researchers “do not make any adjustments” to account for a potential negative impact on jobs. Predictably, in separate 2014 reports on minimum wage proposals for San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, the authors downplay, dismiss, or ignore entirely the prospect of serious impacts on entry-level employment.

The backgrounds of the research team that worked on these studies also suggest their ideological biases:

  • One of the study’s authors, Ken Jacobs, was previously the co-director of the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition.
  • Both Jacobs and his co-author, Ian Perry, work at the Center for Labor Research and Education, which is funded by some of the same labor unions advocating for minimum wage increases.
  • Another one of the authors, Annette Bernhardt, was previously policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project (NELP). NELP openly admits that it is “coordinating the campaign to lift the federal minimum wage to more  than $10 per hour.”

The UC-Berkeley team favorably cites a series of outlying studies that were roundly discredited in a comprehensive report in the respected Cornell economic journal Industrial and Labor Relations Review. Specifically, the examination finds that “neither the conclusions of these studies nor the methods they use are supported by the data.” An analysis from scholars at the University of California-Irvine and the Federal Reserve Board finds that the overwhelming majority of credible studies points to job losses following a minimum wage increase.

Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, released the following statement:

Relying on UC-Berkeley for an “independent” minimum wage analysis is like relying on Hollywood directors for independent reviews of their own films. These researchers had their minds made up about the minimum wage before they started writing page one of the original Los Angeles study.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the vast majority of unbiased economic studies all confirm that a higher minimum wage will indeed reduce job opportunities for the least-experienced employees. Young adults in Los Angeles already face a devastating 30 percent average unemployment rate. They deserve a credible and independent report that takes seriously the harm that a $13.25 wage mandate could cause to their job prospects.

For more information, visit MinimumWage.com. To schedule an interview, contact Jordan Bruneau at (202) 463-7650 or [email protected].