There continues to be much debate around the country about the wisdom of increasing minimum wages and how big an increase can be before it becomes detrimental to the local economy and the very workers the increase is supposed to help. Well, two recent studies of the impact on Seattle employees of the Seattle minimum wage increases showed dramatically different results. A research group at the University of Washington released their 2nd study on the Seattle minimum wage mandate – they reported on the impact of the first phase of the wage increase last July, at that time assessing the impact of the April 2015 increase from $9.47 to $10 or $11 an hour (depending on size, benefits, etc.). This week, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) released the study as a white paper on the 2nd phase of the $15 an hour Seattle minimum wage mandate. The NBER release contends that the wage increase from $11 to $13 an hour that took effect in January 2016 had a much greater impact on income and employment. According to the study, this second increase boosted pay in low-wage jobs by about 3 percent since 2014 but also resulted in an overall reduction in hours of approximately 9%. In the aggregate, the wage increases coupled with the reduction in hours for low-wage workers resulted in an overall reduction of 6% in earnings for low-wage earners, which in Seattle means about $125 LESS per month per low-wage job! On the flip side of that coin, a study by a research group at the University of California – Berkeley reached some different conclusions about the impact. Not surprisingly, the Berkeley report found that the higher minimum wages mandated by the city of Seattle served to increase wages for those low-wage workers but also had no negative impact on overall employment levels in the restaurant industry in Seattle. Everything is just wonderful!