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In their Nov. 19 commentary ("Unfavorable minimum wage study is flawed," Opinion Exchange) Dave Kamper and Clark Goldenrod misrepresent the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank's role and the findings of its recent study of minimum wage increases in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The Minneapolis Fed was selected by the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul to research the impact of their respective minimum wage laws, in part, because policymakers and stakeholders alike were confident that our analysis would be objective and nonpartisan. Our role is not to prescribe policy solutions or to leverage our research to tip the scale for or against minimum wage increases, but rather to help illuminate the impacts and trade-offs of such policy choices. It is up to our elected officials and community stakeholders to advance appropriate policy solutions.

Kamper and Goldenrod may be disappointed in the initial findings, but our work is fully transparent about its methods and data. Our researchers use widely accepted methodology, and we are confident in them. Our primary results focused only on the pre-pandemic years of the wage increase, where we found limited effects on jobs, and only in the restaurant industry. While we provide a preliminary analysis of 2020, as required by contract, Kamper and Goldenrod conveniently overlook our cautions that these results are extremely difficult to interpret at this stage.

This research will further our understanding of the effects of minimum wage policies thanks to a unique data-sharing agreement with the state of Minnesota, which passed the Legislature with bipartisan support. The recent report is the first of several running through 2028. We have no idea what the ultimate findings will be. However, we welcome feedback and constructive discussion from policymakers, researchers and the public. This project will help advance our congressional mandate to achieve maximum employment and we look forward to building on our partnerships with Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Mark Wright, Minneapolis

The writer is research director and senior vice president, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.


Every day we're hearing a constant drumbeat about worker shortages in all types of jobs ranging from truck drivers to dock workers to health care workers in nursing homes and hospitals to school employees to city bus drivers. Many restaurants still can't expand their hours to what they were before the pandemic because they can't hire anyone even after significant hikes in hourly wages. Small businesses are struggling to hire. We're seeing lots of hand-wringing by the media and by politicians on all sides, yet they all seem afraid to identify the obvious solution, which is to substantially increase immigration.

Making day care more affordable and more widely available, as is one of the laudable goals of President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan, would bring some moms back to work, but those moms likely won't start doing long-haul trucking or unloading ships at ports. And mothers' return to work would make a small dent in the tremendous need for more employees.

According to recent news reports, a large fraction of those who haven't returned to work are over the age of 55, and many have no intention of coming back, especially to the type of jobs described above.

We have to acknowledge that the worker shortage is not a temporary problem. Without substantial immigration, the U.S. population will decline over the next decades. The birthrate is now below the rate to sustain the population and is half what it was in the 1950s. According to U.S. government data, the proportion of the population over 65 years old grew by 34% just in the past decade, and the proportion younger than 30 has shrunk. Just today this paper reported on a Pew Research Center survey in which only 26% of people of child-rearing age said that they would "very likely" have a child someday ("Study shows more in U.S. rule out children," Nov. 22). There doesn't appear to be a homegrown solution to the worker shortage on the horizon.

The U.S. has always depended on immigration to fuel growth. Legal immigration was flat from 2010 to 2017 and then was significantly reduced in the Trump years. We're seeing the results of that policy play out now. Many of the jobs that need filling are traditionally those filled by immigrants. Some point to technology and artificial intelligence providing the solution. Well, maybe, but it seems a ways off, if ever, that senior care and child care will be provided by robots. Our leaders need to show some courage and explain these stark realities to the American public.

Valerie A. Nebel, St. Paul


Adding a mere 400 National Guard trained nursing assistants will barely make a dent in the current 23,000 open long term-care positions throughout Minnesota, but it is a start ("Walz offers plans to help staff care facilities," Nov. 23). Financial problems have largely prevented many homes from providing the required standard of care that patients and their loved ones might expect, which can lead to costly malpractice lawsuits that only set them further behind.

My wife worked in nursing homes for 40 years as a physical therapist, and I visited members of my church congregation in nursing homes representing our church for 25 years. We found that there can be vast differences among homes in care, dependent on adequate training, management quality, morale of workers, adequate staffing and overall facility conditions. Many families are able to keep their loved ones in their own homes, often with the help of medical services, but many others ultimately end up in nursing homes to spend their final days.

With millions of Americans and immigrants currently unemployed, how about a blitz effort to offer more courses in nursing assistant training? This could include all the necessary background checks to certify them fit to serve in individual homes or as employees of nursing homes. Pay adequate wages and benefits to nursing home workers, as well as higher wages (no benefits) to those working homes as independent contractors. We need a far more effective response to an overwhelming need for long-term care workers; opportunity knocks!

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis


An influential voice for many

I was saddened to hear that Robert Bly died ("Prolific and theatrical, poet challenged the status quo," front page, Nov. 23). I heard him speak when I was an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota in the spring of 1966. He was touring college campuses around the country with a program called "A Poetry Reading Against the War in Vietnam"; I still have the news clipping that reported that event. I also have the small volume of poems and prose that was read aloud that night, when about 250 students crowded into Mayo Auditorium to hear a group of writers read poetry protesting American involvement in Vietnam. Robert Bly was the moderator of the program. He stated his purpose in being there was "to essentially protest the policies of President Johnson." He went on to describe Lyndon Johnson as "a combination of Willy Loman and Madame Nhu."

The "read-in" was sponsored by the Minnesota Committee to End the War in Vietnam. It was the last stop on a two-week tour that began at Harvard University. Later that same year, I attended a teach-in on the war that was held at Coffman Memorial Union.

Those two events helped me come to terms and understand the Vietnam War. They helped me make the decision that I would not fight in that war. Thirty years later, I happened to run into Mr. Bly on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. I rushed to shake his hand and thank him for helping me during such confusing time in America so many years earlier, when our country was engaged in a war that made little sense.

On that night so long ago in 1966, David Ray, assistant professor of literature at Reed College in Portland, Ore., described Sen. Wayne Morse, who was an early opponent of the war, as "a rare bird singing for integrity." The same could be said of Robert Bly.

M.L. Kluznik, Mendota Heights

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