Using unique longitudinal administrative data of close to 6 million workers’ records, we examine how residential mobility within a high-cost housing market may have impacted the effect of Seattle's
$15 minimum wage ordinance on low-wage workers. Specifically, we document residential patterns of low-wage Seattle workers and their impacts on commute times over the period 2013 - 2016. We find the ratio of low-wage workers living within the city decreased while the proportion of those living in the outskirts increased. Displacement appears to play a role in these residential mobility patterns, with low-wage Seattle workers being more likely to move than their non-low wage counterparts. Additionally, higher earners’ commutes times shortened relative to commute times of lower-paid workers. Our results indicate that the $15 minimum wage increase appears to be helpful for some but insufficient for many. Comprehensive measures, such as public investment in more affordable housing and expanded social programs for health insurance and housing, in conjunction with raising renters’ income, should be considered to sufficiently address the dual crises of housing and income inequity.
Speaker: Mahader Tamene, UC Berkeley
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