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Are they marching toward prosperity or unemployment?

Will the $15 minimum wage in SeaTac be a useful experiment. (AP Photo/file)

A month ago voters in the Seattle suburb of SeaTac, which basically encompasses Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, decided to force airport businesses to pay a minimum wage of $15.

The margin was only 77 votes, but it was enough to inspire the unions behind the campaign to organize marches in several cities – including one from SeaTac Airport to the Seattle City Hall – where Seattle’s first-out-and proud socialist council member – who ran on the $15 wage issue – will be sworn in next month.

Supporters, including the president – are convinced this will help he economy.

“It will be good for our economy, it will be good for our families,” says Obama.

But is he right? The answer is: maybe.

College economics teaches that if you force a boss to raise wages, he’ll try to cut workers. That seems obvious. It feels like it should be true, but a Washington Post Fact Check finds that even though there have been over 150 studies of the minimum wage, economists disagree whether the real world follows the theory.

And that much disagreement is significant. When you study the effects of something like gravity, you don’t get a lot of debate about which way the apple’s going to fall.

So, the fact that there are so many minimum wage studies and so little agreement tells me we need a better laboratory experiment. One involving a distinct group of workers and businesses whose decisions can be easily tracked. Like the one about to begin at a certain airport just outside Seattle.

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