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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 1039; doi:10.3390/ijerph14091039

The Impact of a City-Level Minimum-Wage Policy on Supermarket Food Prices in Seattle-King County

1
Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Center for Public Health Nutrition, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, WA, USA
2
Epidemiology, Center for Public Health Nutrition, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, WA, USA
3
Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, WA, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 June 2017 / Revised: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 6 September 2017 / Published: 9 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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Abstract

Background: Many states and localities throughout the U.S. have adopted higher minimum wages. Higher labor costs among low-wage food system workers could result in higher food prices. Methods: Using a market basket of 106 foods, food prices were collected at affected chain supermarket stores in Seattle and same-chain unaffected stores in King County (n = 12 total, six per location). Prices were collected at 1 month pre- (March 2015) and 1-month post-policy enactment (May 2015), then again 1-year post-policy enactment (May 2016). Unpaired t-tests were used to detect price differences by location at fixed time while paired t-tests were used to detect price difference across time with fixed store chain. A multi-level, linear differences-in-differences model, was used to detect the changes in the average market basket item food prices over time across regions, overall and by food group. Results: There were no significant differences in overall market basket or item-level costs at one-month (−$0.01, SE = 0.05, p = 0.884) or one-year post-policy enactment (−$0.02, SE = 0.08, p = 0.772). No significant increases were observed by food group. Conclusions: There is no evidence of change in supermarket food prices by market basket or increase in prices by food group in response to the implementation of Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance. View Full-Text
Keywords: minimum wage; market basket; food cost; supermarkets; food price minimum wage; market basket; food cost; supermarkets; food price
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Otten, J.J.; Buszkiewicz, J.; Tang, W.; Aggarwal, A.; Long, M.; Vigdor, J.; Drewnowski, A. The Impact of a City-Level Minimum-Wage Policy on Supermarket Food Prices in Seattle-King County. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 1039.

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