Bottom Rung: Why One Idaho Border Business Chose Washington

May 13, 2013

Tim Skubitz stands in front of his McDonalds in Newport, Washington. It's right across the street from Oldtown, Idaho.
Credit Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The border between Washington and Idaho is like a petri dish for what the minimum wage does to the economy. That’s where two extremes meet. Idaho has the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. While Washington’s is nearly $2 more.

At $9.19, Washington has the highest minimum wage in the nation. You might expect that wage gap to send Washington border businesses fleeing over to Idaho. But that’s not what’s happening.

Idahoans like Ron Mendive pride themselves on having a business-friendly state. The Republican state representative from Coeur d’Alene shares the view of many about the minimum wage.

“Jobs are lost when the minimum wage goes up,” says Mendive.

But in 2010, a group of researchers decided to put that conventional wisdom to the test. And they used counties along the Washington-Idaho border, and hundreds others like them, to do it. Click here to continue reading...