Employment Policies Institute, The Bieber, Billboards, and Disingenuous Arguments

An interesting combination if there ever was one, no?  The Employment Policies Institute is a Washington, D.C. based organization that exists to campaign against raising the minimum wage on the local, state, and federal level.  As the Salon reports, their latest billboard campaign seeks to make Los Angeles residents Beliebers in their disingenuous arguments:

Using a somewhat angry picture of the pop star, a Los Angeles billboard asks: “Why is Justin Bieber so sad?”

“Could it be because 24% of teens who want a job can’t find one? Teen unemployment makes us all sad. Unfortunately, raising the minimum wage will only make things worse.”

OMG!  Is it true?  Is multi-million dollar recording “artist” Justin Bieber really taking a stand against raising the minimum wage?  With all the other questionable decisions the Bieb has been making recently, this one isn’t too far out of the realm of possibilities.

Queries to Bieber about the billboard went unanswered, according to the Huffington Post:

A spokeswoman for Bieber did not respond to a HuffPost query asking whether the singer approved of his likeness being used and whether he agreed that the minimum wage should not be raised. A cursory search of the heartthrob’s lyrics catalogue turns up no mention of the minimum wage or labor economics more generally.

Damn.  There would have been much more humor value in this story if the Bieber and his boatloads full of money really would have come out against raising the minimum wage.  No, seems like it is just a little bit of unauthorized usage which the EPI of course defends.

Though it didn’t consult Bieber, the Employment Policies Institute defends its use of the star’s picture, saying that the ad doesn’t draw any conclusions:

“It could be many things,” Michael Saltsman, a researcher at the Employment Policies Institute told the Huffington Post. “We’re asking a question — and we’re speculating the answer — but we’re not implying that he supports any particular policy.”

While that is quite a weak defense, it is much stronger than any possible defense they could come up with for their actual argument that raising the minimum wage costs poor teenagers employment opportunities.  Quick, flash the fact symbol and call in that superhero of the rational, scientific research!

Economic Policy Institute: “The Warnings Of Massive Teen Job Loss Due To Minimum Wage Increases Simply Do Not Comport With The Evidence.”

While it is true that there is some disagreement among economists about whether increasing the minimum wage increases or decreases employment, there is a consensus on the essential point: the impact of a minimum wage raise on jobs, whether positive or negative, is small. The warnings of massive teen job loss due to minimum wage increases simply do not comport with the evidence.


University Of California: Minimum Wage Has Nothing “But Very Small Disemployment Effects” On Teen Employment.

Including controls for long-term growth differences among states and for heterogeneous economic shocks renders the employment and hours elasticities indistinguishable from zero and rules out any but very small disemployment effects. Dynamic evidence further shows the nature of bias in traditional estimates, and it also rules out all but very small negative long-run effects. [Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley

A lesson everyone can benefit from:  When the evidence isn’t on your side, distract everyone by flashing your Bieber!

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