Business Insider

SEATTLE, WA – University of Washington researchers have good news for Seattle’s low-wage grocery workers.

Raising the minimum wage in Seattle to $13 an hour did not affect the price of food at supermarkets, according to a new study led by the University of Washington School of PublicHealth.

According to the University of Washington’s Jennifer Otten, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, the study dispels major myths that minimum wage increases correlate generally increase retail prices.The study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and PublicHealth.

More U.S. cities than ever are increasing minimum wages to help low-income workers, but most studies ignore the public health outcomes, including effects on food security, diet, and related health outcomes.This is the most comprehensive study of the minimum wage policy’s socioeconomic effects of supermarket prices at the local level conducted by the University of Washington so far.

Some of Seattle’s biggest minimum wage employers like grocery retailers were required to pay workers at least $11 an hour starting back in April 2015, $13 an hour in January 2016, and $15an hour in January 2017.Collecting data from six Seattle supermarket chains affected by the policy and six others outside unaffected by the policy within King County, Otten and her colleagues looked at prices for 106 food items per store starting one month before the policy’s enactment, one month after, and a year later.

The team found no significant differences in the cost of the market basket between the two locations at any point in time.According to a second assessment, there were no significant price increases by food group, including specific items like fruits and vegetables.

Meats made up the largest share of the basket, followed by vegetables, cereal, grains and dairy.Funded the City of Seattle and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the study represents the most recent work by the Evans School of Public Policy’s UW Minimum Wage Study Team.

Results of supermarket food prices collected after the $15 per hour minimum wage hike are forthcoming.

Sources:University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy Minimum Wage Study Team:https://evans.uw.edu/policy-impact/minimum- wage-studyThe Impact of a City-Level Minimum-Wage Policy on Supermarket Food Prices in Seattle-King County: http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/14/9/1039

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