Red Tape - Policy Study
Should Missouri Raise Its Minimum Wage? Print E-mail
By David Neumark   
Friday, September 07, 2012

Some advocates in Missouri would like to see the state’s minimum wage increased to as much as 8.25, and to index it to the rate of inflation so that it will continue to climb in subsequent years. If Missouri was to increase the minimum wage to that level, it would be higher than all but one of its surrounding states. The main argument proffered in favor of a minimum wage increase is that it will help poor and low-income families. But a higher minimum wage is unlikely to achieve this goal.

A higher minimum wage will likely reduce employment among the very low-wage, low-skilled workers that minimum wage proponents are trying to help. A large body of research illustrates the disemployment effects of minimum wage.

Moreover, even if many workers affected by a higher minimum wage would see increased wages and suffer neither reductions in employment nor hours, minimum wages may do little or nothing to help poor and low-income families. Minimum wage laws mandate high wages for low-wage workers, rather than higher earnings for low-income families. But low-wage work and low family income are quite distinct, because many minimum wage workers are in higher-income families, and many poor families have no workers.

Mandating higher wages for low-wage workers in high-income families, such as teenagers from welloff families working a summer job, does nothing to help poor and low-income families. Indeed, if the job losses from a higher minimum wage are borne by minimum wage workers in poor, low-income families, minimum wages can have unintended harmful distributional effects — possibly increasing the number of poor or low-income families. Reflecting these issues, research fails to establish that higher minimum wages help poor or low-income families.

These are perennial issues in debates about a higher minimum wage. In the current economic environment, with unemployment remaining high and job growth fairly stagnant, it may be far wiser for policy to focus on increasing employment among the unemployed, rather than trying to increase the wages of the employed.

Housing Affordability: The Saint Louis Competitive Advantage Print E-mail
By Wendell Cox   
Friday, February 10, 2012

The decade of 2000 to 2009 saw changes in domestic migration trends in America. These changes saw an increase in domestic migration away from the coasts and to the interior, or heartland, of America. The well-documented increase in housing costs was one of the primary drivers of that change. While housing costs increased everywhere, they increased much more substantially along the coasts, especially the West Coast. The Saint Louis metropolitan area was one of the beneficiaries of this new migration trend.

Saint Louis, Mo., has one of the United States’ most affordable housing markets. One of the reasons for the affordable housing in Saint Louis is the lack of centralized planning by governments in the area. The greater Saint Louis metropolitan area should position itself to continue to benefit from these domestic migration trends by limiting the planning requirements it imposes on homebuilders and developers.

That lack of government regulation and planning and the resulting lower housing costs leads to a lower overall cost of living for residents of the Saint Louis area. There is evidence that the more affordable cost of living is making Saint Louis more attractive to outsiders and resulting in growth for the entire region.

Standstill: Is Saint Louis Hindering Development by Waiting for Large-Scale Miracles? Print E-mail
By Audrey Spalding, Thomas Duda   
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In 2010, four different people tried to buy 2925 Union Blvd., a vacant city-owned property. All four were told no. The city’s refusal to sell 2925 Union is by no means unique: More than 9,000 parcels like this one are owned by the city, and even though there are offers to purchase many of them, most aren’t being sold.

Is the 'Missouri Plan' Good for Missouri? The Economics of Judicial Selection Print E-mail
By Joshua Hall and Russell Sobel   
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

For 68 years, Missouri has selected its Supreme Court judges through a system of merit selection dubbed the “Missouri Plan.” Today, 26 states use some form of this plan, most having abandoned partisan judicial elections amid concerns about the effects of political pressure on a fair and evenhanded application of the law. Recent debates about this process in Missouri have instigated many proposals for changes. Because judicial independence is critical to a well-functioning legal system, this study will analyze judicial selection and its effect on the quality of courts.



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