Employment Policies Institute: Preemptive Attacks on Economists and Academic Works are Desperate and Without Merit

Defenders of New York City’s Living Wage Proposal Desperately Attack Well-Respected Economists Before Study is Complete
  • Publication Date: October 2010

  • Topics: Living Wage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Employment Policies Institute (EPI) research fellow, Michael Saltsman, released the following statement in response to attacks by the National Employment Law Project and the Fiscal Policy Institute on the credibility of EPI and respected labor economists Daniel Hamermesh and David Neumark:

“The credibility of Professors Hamermesh and Neumark and of research published by EPI is unquestioned, except by those with a political agenda. As a result, the critics cited in this hit piece by NELP and FPI include Robert Pollin, a radical left-wing economist who served as a prominent spokesman for the living wage movement in the ‘90s. Pollin’s past affiliations include service on the steering committee of the Union for Radical Political Economists, once described by a spokesman as supporting “an American version of socialism.”

What’s most telling about this preemptive attack is how desperate it sounds. Nervous that an unbiased and fair analysis of the proposed living wage law could yield some inconvenient conclusions, the living wage law’s supporters are out to smear the economists authoring it before they’ve even finished the study. This is a blatantly partisan attack, and should be treated—and dismissed—as such.”

There is no question that Professors Daniel Hamermesh and David Neumark are two of the most respected labor economists in the country. Their curriculum vitae speak for themselves:

• Hamermesh is a professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin, a past president of the Society of Labor Economists, and has been a visiting professor at universities the world over. He’s authored or co-authored over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles.

• Neumark is a professor of economics at the University of California Irvine, and once served as an economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He’s authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles.

If the report’s authors had thoroughly read Neumark’s work on the living wage, they’d realize that he’s been somewhat supportive of living wage policies. One paper he co-authored with Scott Adams found that living wage policies do achieve poverty reductions in urban areas; the problem, they concluded, was that this poverty reduction comes at the expense of less-skilled individuals who may be priced out of the workforce.

Studies by Neumark and Hamermesh are not the opinions of political hacks; they are the careful and studied conclusions of experienced labor economists, who are more than qualified to serve as economists on a study of a proposed living wage law.