That Toddling Town

by Russ Roberts on July 27, 2006

in Media

The Chicago City Council approved the ordinance requiring big retailers to pay at least $10 per hour in wages and $3 per hour in benefits. The New York Times story opens with inadvertent irony:

After months of fevered lobbying and bitter debate, the Chicago City
Council passed a groundbreaking ordinance yesterday requiring “big box”
stores, like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, to pay a minimum wage of $10 an
hour by 2010, along with at least $3 an hour worth of benefits.

I’m not sure "groundbreaking" is the right word to use about an ordinance that Target and Wal-Mart have said might keep them from opening new stores in the city.

But the real high point of the story comes here:

Some economists say such measures will stifle development and deprive
consumers of access to cheap goods, but many poverty experts say that
local efforts elsewhere to raise wages have not choked off growth and
that the expanding, low-paying retail sector can be safely pressed to
raise pay.

Ah, only some economists are worried. But many poverty experts are not. The implication is that the optimists outnumber the pessimists. There’s a comfort, don’t you think? The Times lets us hear from one of the optimists:

“We’re very confident that retailers want and need to be in Chicago,
and the question for the city is what kinds of jobs they will bring,”
said Annette Bernhardt of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, which helped draft the Chicago bill and has done economic studies of its likely impact.

It’s awkward to have a person from a law school make a claim about the economic impact of the ordinance. So to reassure the reader, we are told that she has done economic studies. So she must know, I guess, of where she speaks.

No economists worried about the impact of the law are quoted.


Add a Comment    Share Share    Print    Email

Previous post:

Next post: