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DFP Poll: 84% Reject Novstrups’ Youth Minimum Wage

The latest Dakota Free Press poll finds that Referred Law 19, David and Al Novstrup’s effort to cut the minimum wage for teenagers, is as popular as Donald Trump among my readers.

DFP poll youth minimum wage Oct 23-25 2016I asked Sunday morning, “Do you support Referred Law 20, which would cut the minimum wage for young workers?” Through the wee hours this morning, 202 of you responded (thank you!). 84% of you said No; 16% said Yes.

That 16% Yes vote is the same result that Donald Trump got in the DFP Presidential poll in mid-September. The 84% rejection is harder thumpage than DFP readers gave Referred Law 19 at State Fair time. The greater than 5-to-1 difference is far bigger than the almost 2-to-1 votes you cast in favor of Amendment V in August.

Hmm… looks like it’s time for me to poll the other ballot measures and see if we can rack up any greater margin of defeat or victory for any other measure!

Now we know that Dakota Free Press readers are not representative of the general electorate. You’re all smarter, better looking, and more easily distracted by the Internet. ;-)

But consider: suppose my blog polls are usually off by 20%. We’re probably off by more than that on Trump, but he’s a unique and personal case, and my blog is probably uniquely repellent to Trumpists (statistics, evidence, logic, civil discourse… yup! Trump-bane!). Subtract 20 points from my blog poll results on the ballot measures, and V dies (which I can imagine happening, given Republican push against and Democratic disagreement on V), 19 fails with about a 60% vote, and the youth minimum wage fails with an even stronger No vote. That’s strange: I thought RL 19 would be the easier kill, given that its arcanity would enhance its indefensibility, while RL 20 would be tighter, floating around the 55% by which the minimum wage increase passed in 2014, then trading votes between conservatives who either think kids should get lower pay or don’t like the minimum wage in the first place and small-d democrats who are mad at the Novstrups and the GOP for messing with a voter-approved initiative.

I won’t get complacent: I’ll keep pushing the idea that the Novstrups’ youth minimum wage is a bad idea. But if this poll is any indication, that message has already gotten through to more people than I expected.

Related: Remember how I reported in July that the economic data for the first sixteen months of our increased minimum wage showed no signs of harming South Dakota’s unemployment rate, workforce participation rate, or GDP growth? The Bureau of Finance and Management has four more months of data in its South Dakota Economic and Revenue Update, and sure enough, through August 2016, under a minimum wage of $8.55 an hour, South Dakota continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, year-over-year increases in employment (percentage and raw number) in every major sector but manufacturing, a steady workforce participation rate (up a tiny tick this year), and positive year-to-year GDP growth in every quarter since the 2015 minimum wage increase.*

Gee, maybe its not my persuasive force but the sheer strength of the economy dooming the Novstrups’ youth minimum wage to defeat.

*Correction 14:48 CDT: I misread the state’s double-scale bar chart. I regret the error and have revised the chart to better reflect the state’s data.


  1. Rob H 2016-10-25 12:50

    Maybe this is nitpicky, but regarding your point concerning economic growth in SD– The Bureau of Economic Analysis put SD’s real growth in terms of GDP at -2.8% in the first quarter of 2016. From what I can tell, our state’s economic growth is not as robust as you claim, in relative terms. I don’t think the lack of growth stems from the minimum wage law, I am pretty sure it is a structural thing. Either way, I am unsure of the data you cite.


  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-25 14:50

    Whoops! Good catch, Rob H! I misread the axes of the state’s bar chart. I have corrected my error up above—I’ll insert the SD BFM chart here later this afternoon, after I run a few errands!

    If you’re itching for the data, check out the chart at this link:

  3. Porter Lansing 2016-10-25 16:10

    Why haven’t the Novstrup’s paraded out a queue of happy teen employees who think it’s just great that their bosses are trying to use their politically elected offices to legally cut their pay and put more “amusement cash” in the owners pockets? Maybe they think they work just as hard as any adult at Thunder Road and should be compensated fairly. Hmmmmm?

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-25 16:32

    Here’s the chart the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management presents in its latest South Dakota Economic and Revenue Update:

    SDBFM Economic and Revenue Update September 2016—Real GDP Growth 2011-2016

    The blue bars show real GDP; the red line shows percentage growth over the same quarter, previous year. Yes, SD GDP dropped from Q4 2015 to Q1 2016, similar to quarter-to-quarter dips in Q1 2014 and Q1 2015. However, the Q1 2016 quarterly dip was smaller than the two preceding quarterly dips. Q1 2016 was also bigger than Q1 2015 (and comparing quarter to quarter matters, given harvest, winter, tourism, Christmas shopping, etc.).

    I will agree that any weaknesses are unlikely to originate from the minimum wage law; any substantial dip in GDP this year will likely first tie to lower ag prices (?). But my main thesis remains unrefuted: GDP year-over-year has grown consistently post-minimum-wage hike, and like other economic metrics, shows no sign of the impacts that RL 20 supporters used to justify its passage back in 2015.

  5. Rob H 2016-10-25 17:06

    I think any discrepancy in data between our two sources comes from the SD Bureau of Finance adjusting their numbers for the season (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) while the BEA does not.
    I haven’t put much time into analyzing the data, so I cannot draw many conclusions from it.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-25 21:07

    BEA release says its –2.8% for SD Q1 2016 (like the rest of its data) is seasonally adjusted. Iowa and Nebraska had Q1 negs similar to ours in 2015 and 2016. Hmmm….

  7. Rob H 2016-10-25 21:28

    I think the state bureau and the BEA use different adjustment factors. The state graph does not feature as much variation in growth as the BEA chart. This may be because the state statisticians use different numbers to kinda smooth out the numbers a bit. This seems to be a good example of that quote by Mark Twain concerning damn lies and statistics.

  8. Chip 2016-10-26 10:08

    I think there should be some incentive for businesses to get our youth off the court and behind a broom, but paying them less sends the wrong message.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-26 13:46

    Uh oh! Chip gets me thinking of one reason I could support lower wages for kids: maybe it would encourage them to stay in school and join the debate team! :-D

    Rob H, whatever numbers the state is using, I would think that numbers I cite directly from state government would be the most credible I can use to make an argument about South Dakota policy. Those are the numbers on which the Legislature bases its decisions, right?

    (But again, let’s remember, Rob H and I aren’t going to squabble too hard over the provenance of these numbers, because we neither one believe the minimum wage is having a big impact on whatever those numbers are measuring.)

  10. Chip 2016-10-26 15:14

    I have a tough time with minimum wage increases in general.

    #1 We don’t have an income problem nearly as much as we have an expense problem (notice I didn’t say spending problem). Increased hourly wages do nothing to curb rising costs.

    #2 We should concentrate on providing healthcare coverage before we worry about increasing hourly wages.

    #3 Wage increases are more of a strain on small businesses than they are on larger competing corporations, which is the opposite of what we need.

    I’m not saying that don’t support wage increases, but these things I feel need to be considered.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-27 03:23

    Chip, at our Dem candidates’ forum at NSU last week, a restaurant owner raised similar concerns about the minimum wage. He sounded alarmed at the prospect fo going to Bernie Sanders’s promised $15/hour. I agree that we have to consider just how much small business can bear when we consider raising the minimum wage, and I’m open to debate about what specific dollar figure represents a fair balance of basic worker rights and business needs. Practically, I’m willing to leave South Dakota’s minimum wage where it is (that annual cost of living adjustment reduces the pressure to revisit the issue) and focus on other policies that do more to protect workers from rising costs… like Medicaid expansion for workers at the low end and increasing state support for post-secondary education.

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