CBO Chief Defends Minimum Wage Analysis Against White House Criticism


The director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday defended CBO’s analysis that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour could cost up to 500,000 jobs once fully implemented in 2016.

“I want to be clear that our analysis of the effects of an increase in the minimum wage is completely consistent with the latest thinking in the economics profession,” Doug Elmendorf told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “We did an exhaustive review of the literature in this area, up to reports that were released last month.”

He was responding to top White House economist Jason Furman, who sought to discredit the CBO analysis after it came out on Tuesday, saying it was “outside the consensus view of economists” who have studied the relationship between the minimum wage and employment.

“A balanced reading of the set of research studies in this area led us to conclude that an increase in the minimum wage would probably have a small negative effect on employment,” the CBO chief said. “But there was substantial uncertainty around that estimate, as we reported.”

Elmendorf said the finding was “completely consistent with the balance of the evidence” available to economists.

While taking issue with the jobs statistic, the White House touted other findings in the CBO report which said raising the wage would give 16.5 million low-wage workers a pay raise and lift about 900,000 out of poverty.