Alas, the Swiss Have Rejected the World’s Highest Minimum Wage

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
May 19 2014 10:31 AM

Alas, the Swiss Have Rejected the World’s Highest Minimum Wage

174714913-man-throws-a-swiss-flag-on-july-28-2013-in-nendaz
This man's countrymen declined to be lab rats in a very cool economics experiment.

Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Over the weekend, Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum that would have created the world’s highest nationwide minimum wage, with 76.3 percent of them siding against the measure. The failed effort would have set the country's pay floor at 22 francs per hour, which translates to $25 using market exchange rates, or about $14 adjusted for purchasing power, according to Bloomberg.

And frankly, I’m kind of bummed. As I’ve written here before, one reason we should all be at least a little wary of efforts to push the minimum up to $15 in places like Seattle is that there isn’t a whole lot of historical precedent, either here in America or abroad. According to the OECD, Luxembourg currently has the world’s highest minimum wage, adjusted for purchasing power, at $10.70 per hour.

global_minimum_wage_purchasing_power
Advertisement

With it's enviably low 3.2 percent unemployment rate, Switzerland would have been a pretty safe place to test-run something more ambitious. After all, you're talking about a generally high-pay country—only a tenth of Swiss workers earn less than the proposed minimum—where, even with some job losses, you'd still have a remarkably robust labor market. Alas, it's not to be. The economics profession can only mourn.

Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.