Why Reuters is Worse than Worthless, Part CXXIII

Minimum wage at Iceland - £0.00 per
hour This Reuters story ("Ten U.S. states raise minimum wage, rates up 10 to 35 cents/hour") appeared at the top of my Google News page early in the new year. First paragraph:

Ten U.S. states kicked off the new year with a minimum wage rise of between 10 and 35 cents, modestly boosting the incomes of nearly 1 million low-paid workers.

I looked for the Econ 101 caveat: … or at least for those still employed, clocking the same number of hours, which won't be everyone. But it wasn't there. The "news" story didn't seem at all interested in possible negative effects of minimum wage increases. In ReutersLand, it's all sunshine and lollipops.

The increases are due to state laws mandating a wage rate higher than the US minimum of $7.25/hr, and linking the rate to inflation. To reinforce the story's Pollyannish view of the effects, seemingly expert views are quoted:

The increase will put an extra $190 to $510 per year into the pocket of the average minimum-wage worker, according to a study by the non-partisan National Employment Law Project, released last month.

Is the National Employment Law Project (NELP) "non-partisan"? Well… Their website is here. To give you an idea on whether they have an invested position on the minimum wage, they also maintain the website www.raisetheminimumwage.com. And if you look at NELP's Board of Directors, you'll see a preponderance of union bigwigs, "community activists", and "progressive" hangers-on. Apparently the Reuters rulebook allows the NELP to be deemed "non-partisan." But I would be stunned if you were able to show me a single GOP donor on the Board.

Reuters' labelling of NELP as "non-partisan" is lulls the reader into thinking they're getting authoritative facts from an unbiased source; in fact, they're getting ideological advocacy.

The story continues…

"For a low-wage worker, these increases are a vital protection against rising costs. In states without indexing, inflation slowly erodes the value of minimum wage workers' pay," said David Cooper, an analyst with the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute.

There's that "nonpartisan" blessing from Reuters again. And (again) the "nonpartisan" EPI turns out to be another left-wing advocacy outfit. Their board is about as nonpartisan as the AFL-CIO. (Clue: the board's chairman is Richard Trumka, also the president of the AFL-CIO.)

[Note that Reuters isn't shy about labelling the ideology of organizations when they're not on the left. For example, this article follows up a reference to the Heritage Foundation with the dismissive "a Washington-based conservative think-tank"; the Cato Institute is nearly always referred to as "the libertarian Cato Institute" or a "libertarian think-tank".]

You would not know from reading the Reuters article that there's any controversy about the minimum wage at all. Wikipedia could have told Reuters about it. Fun fact: a 2006 survey of 210 Ph.D. members of the American Economics Association asked about the minimum wage: of the economists responding to that question, nearly half thought it should eliminated; that was the largest single response.

New Year Resolution: try to figure out how to remove Reuters articles from Google News.