It happens like clock work: a bill is introduced to increase the minimum wage and is quickly followed by industry-funded studies discussing the harm of paying low wage workers more. That's what the right-wing think tanks are deisgned to do: produce reports that challenge progressive policies. But when a newspaper labels that think tank as a "non-profit research organization," there's a problem.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in a report on a proposal in the General Assembly to make the minimum wage in Illinois equal to the purchasing power equivalent to the original minimum wage in 1968, cited a study by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), which claimed in a study that "for every 10 percent increase in a state's minimum wage, teen employment decreases by as much as 3.6 percent." The story described EPI as "national employment policy group."In fact, as Media Matters has pointed out, EPI was started in the early 1990s by a group of restaurant companies with the goal of pushing back against labor, and it has a history of producing misleading studies.
As for the substance of the claim that increasing the minimum wage hurts employment for teens, we've shot down that canard before. Teen employment, which has declined precipitously since the recession kicked in, is influenced by larger labor market employment trends -- not minimum wage changes. When times were good, teenage employment actually increased at a higher rate in states with minimum wages set above the national floor.
Back to EPI. Promoting these myths about the minimum wage to discourage the public and legislators from forwarding the proposals is what the organization was established to do. It would be nice if the Post-Dispatch would say that.