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Does Minimum Wage Cause Unemployment

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Distributional Effects And Impact On Povertyin Brief

APPLICATION: Does the minimum wage cause unemployment?

The main argument proffered in favor of a minimum wage is that it helps poor and low-income families. But because there are some disemployment effects, minimum wages create winners and losers. The winners get a higher wage with no reduction in employment , while the losers bear the burden of the disemployment effectslosing their job, having their hours reduced, or finding it more difficult to get a job. If the gains to the winners are large, if these winners are disproportionately from the low-income families that policymakers would like to help, and if the losses are concentrated among higher-income workers or other groups from whom policymakers are willing to redistribute income, then the losses experienced by the losers from a minimum wage increase may be deemed acceptable. However, research on the US fails to find evidence that minimum wages help the poor they may actually increase the number of poor and low-income families.

Before-and-after studies that directly estimate the distributional effects of minimum wages are more decisive. There are far fewer such studies than there are studies of employment effects. However, most of the existing research finds no statistical evidence of reductions in poverty from a higher minimum wage.

What Does The Evidence Say About The Potential Consequences Of Increasing The National Minimum Wage


The traditional view is that minimum wage increases would lead to rises in unemployment. But more recent research such as a famous study of New Jerseys 1992 minimum wage hike has shown that there are limited increases in unemployment following such wage rises.

Two reviews of the evidence for the UK find no significant overall employment effect, even during periods of recession . Instead, employers seem to absorb minimum wage increases through a combination of higher prices, lower profits and increased worker productivity, rather than cutting jobs .


According to a recent survey, 21-23% of firms said they had responded to past minimum wage increases by raising their prices . But the overall effect on the inflation rate is likely to be small.

One study suggests that for a wage rise of 10%, prices are likely to increase by around 0.23-1.1% . But price rises in sectors with a lot of low-wage workers such as domestic services, hotel services and restaurant or takeaway meals are likely to be greater . And as the UK begins to unwind its lockdown measures, a surge in demand for hospitality services such as pubs and restaurants could add to inflationary pressure in this sector.


In a sector such as hospitality which has the highest proportion of firms with less than three months of cash reserves and a moderate to severe risk of insolvency firms may not be able to reduce profits any further without going under .


Why Is Teen Unemployment Rising

High minimum wage rates lead to unemployment for teens. One of the prime reasons for this drastic employment drought is the mandated wage hikes that policymakers have forced on small businesses. Economic research has shown time and again that increasing the minimum wage destroys jobs for low-skilled workers while doing little to address poverty.

High minimum wage rates price teens out of jobs. When the minimum wage gets boosted, employers frequently cut down on hiring teens who typically fill lower-priority positions. Nearly half of all minimum wage earners are teenagers or young people still living with their parents. Most of the work still gets done, but customers may get stuck standing in longer lines, and teens suffer because theyve been priced out of the opportunity to work.

Employers are unable to afford hire more unskilled and inexperienced workers when the minimum wage increases. Ironically, one of the stated goals of the Fair Labor Standards Act is to protect the educational opportunities of minors. However, as labor becomes more expensive for small businesses, managers can afford to hire fewer workers and that leaves unskilled teens and minorities out of luck.

Teen unemployment is three times the national unemployment rate. The percentage of teens classified as unemployed those who are actively seeking a job but cant get one is more than three times the national unemployment rate, according to the most recent Department of Labor statistics.

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Relation Between Minimum Wage And Unemployment

On January 21 2021, the US President Joe Biden, through an executive order announced an increase in workers minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour i.e. more than double.

Some economists are of the view that the increase in the minimum wage could cause an increase in unemployment. Other economists think that the increase is unlikely to harm the labour market. Hence, they are of the view that raising the minimum wage could lift the workers living standards.

For example, in a study conducted in the 1990s, economists David Card and Alan Krueger examined a minimum-wage rise in New Jersey by comparing fast-food restaurants there and in an adjacent part of Pennsylvania.1 They found no impact on employment.

Based on this study, many mainstream economists have expressed sympathy to President Bidens executive order to double the minimum wage, which they hold is going to raise workers living standards.

In recent study, the National Bureau of Economic Research surveyed a body of economic research on minimum wage increases and rebutted the notion that empirical data show no impact of increases in minimum wage hikes. The authors find that of all the available research on the subject they reviewed, there is a clear preponderance of findings that show a job-killing impact.

Given the contradictory results is there an alternative approach to decide whether the increase in the minimum wage will result in an increase or reduction in employment?


The Effects Of Minimum Wages On Employment

 Binding minimum wage. Binding minimum wages cause ...

Opinions expressed in FRBSF Economic Letter do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This publication is edited by Anita Todd. Permission to reprint must be obtained in writing.

The minimum wage has gained momentum among policymakers as a way to alleviate rising wage and income inequality. Much of the debate over this policy centers on whether raising the minimum wage causes job loss, as well as the potential magnitude of those losses. Recent research shows conflicting evidence on both sides of the issue. In general, the evidence suggests that it is appropriate to weigh the cost of potential job losses from a higher minimum wage against the benefits of wage increases for other workers.

  • Abstract

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How The Minimum Wage Impacts Unemployment

Here is what experts say about the effect that raising the minimum wage would have on workers, employers, and the overall job market.

Apart from what legislators are doing, some large employers have taken it upon themselves to establish companywide minimum wages in recent years. Those include big retailers such as Amazon , Costco , and Walmart .

What Type Of Unemployment Is It When The Minimum Wage Increases Is It Structural Frictional Cyclical Or Voluntary Unemployment And Why

Who are the experts?Our certified Educators are real professors, teachers, and scholars who use their academic expertise to tackle your toughest questions. Educators go through a rigorous application process, and every answer they submit is reviewed by our in-house editorial team.

B.S. from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Educator since 2019

Structural unemployment is unemployment related to structural, or systemic, changes in the economic system. Therefore, unemployment directly related to raising the minimum wage is called structural unemployment. The issue in the system is that the amount of profit each company receives will remain roughly the same therefore, margins will decrease…

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What Would A National $15 Minimum Wage Mean

There have also been initiatives in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. The Raise the Wage Act of 2019, for example, would increase the level in a series of steps until it reached $15 in 2025. In subsequent years it would be indexed to keep pace with median wage growth. The bill passed the House in July 2019 but was not passed by the Senate.

How would such an increase affect overall employment? The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office examined that question in a report published in July 2019 titled The Effects on Employment and Family Income of Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage. It predicted what would happen if the minimum wage were raised in annual increments from 2020 to 2025, at which point it would reach either $10, $12, or $15.

  • A $10 minimumAccording to the CBO’s projections, the $10 minimum wage would raise earnings for up to 3.5 million workers and “have virtually no effect on employment.” Nor would it have an appreciable impact on the number of people in poverty.
  • A $12 minimumThe $12 minimum wage would benefit up to 11 million workers while reducing overall employment by an estimated 300,000 jobs. The number of people whose annual incomes fell below the poverty threshold in 2025 would be reduced by 400,000.
  • A $15 minimumFinally, the $15 minimum wage would benefit up to 27 million workers but cost an estimated 1.3 million jobs. At the same time, a similar number of people would see their annual incomes rise above the poverty threshold.

Research Subsequent To Card And Krueger’s Work

Economists confident minimum wage does not cause unemployment, says Low Pay Commission Chair

In 1996, David Neumark and William Wascher reexamined Card and Krueger’s result using administrative payroll records from a sample of large fast food restaurant chains, and reported that minimum wage increases were followed by decreases in employment. An assessment of data collected and analyzed by Neumark and Wascher did not initially contradict the Card and Krueger results, but in a later edited version they found a four percent decrease in employment, and reported that “the estimated disemployment effects in the payroll data are often statistically significant at the 5- or 10-percent level although there are some estimators and subsamples that yield insignificantalthough almost always negative” employment effects. Neumark and Wascher’s conclusions were subsequently rebutted in a 2000 paper by Card and Krueger. A 2011 paper has reconciled the difference between Card and Krueger’s survey data and Neumark and Wascher’s payroll-based data. The paper shows that both datasets evidence conditional employment effects that are positive for small restaurants, but are negative for large fast-food restaurants. A 2014 analysis based on panel data found that the minimum wage reduces employment among teenagers.

Economists in Denmark, relying on a discontinuity in wage rates when a worker turns 18, found that employment fell by 33% and total hours fell by 45% when the minimum wage law was in effect.

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How Raising Minimum Wage To $15 Per Hour Could Affect Workers And Small Businesses

The debate over raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour is gaining steam, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle weigh the benefits and consequences.

Will legislation create another blow for small businesses? The debate over raising the minimum wage is gaining steam, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle weigh the benefits and consequences of boosting the lowest pay to $15 per hour. We want to see Americans wages go up, we want to see more jobs created not fewer and we want to see businesses thrive, especially small businesses that are the backbone of our economy, Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn. , said Wednesday during a hearing called by the House Committee on Small Business. Late last month, Democrats introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, which would gradually increase the federal minimum wage from $7. 25 to $15 by 2025. The legislation is currently included in the House version of the $1. 9 trillion relief package that is set for a vote on Friday, but its unclear if that provision will pass the Senate. Another option, announced Tuesday by Senators Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Tom Cotton, R-Ark. , would be to increase the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2025 and then automatically increase it every two years to match the rate of inflation.

Higher Minimum Wages Support Job Growth As The Economy Recovers From Covid

States that guarantee better pay for their workers have added more jobs in 2021 than states with lower minimum and subminimum wages.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

  • States with higher and more equitable minimum wages have seen a quicker recovery
  • States with higher and more equitable minimum wages are projected to surpass pre-COVID-19 employment sooner
  • Dispelling myths about raising the minimum wage
  • Acknowledgments
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What Do People Say About Teen Unemployment

The New York Times Bob Herbert has chronicled the plight of unemployed teens in his columns.

Herbert discusses how unemployment is an opportunity cost in terms of experience, development, and future earnings:

Young men and women who remain unemployed for substantial periods of time find it very difficult to make up that ground. They lose the experience and training they would have gained by working. Even if they eventually find employment, they tend to lag behind their peers when it comes to wages, promotions and job security.

REALITY: Research from Northeastern University found that teens with no paid employment are more likely to drop out of high school, become involved with the criminal justice system, and to become pregnant.

The Push For A Higher Minimum Wage

Why $15 minimum wage is pretty safe

There is no question just how tough it can be to make a living and support a family on a minimum-wage income. Compounding the issue is the fact that minimum wage increases have not kept pace with the cost of living since the 1960s. Relative to living costs, the value of the minimum wage in the United States peaked in 1968 and has been on a downward trend ever since.

Here’s an example to demonstrate. Let’s say single-father Adam works a minimum wage job in Tennessee. The state’s minimum wage is the same as the federal rate: $7.25 an hour. Adam earns $290 working 40 hours each week, or $1,160 each month.

This figure, of course, doesn’t factor in any taxes or deductions from Adam’s paycheck. According to Payscale, the average rent for an apartment in Knoxville is $780.47 per month, while the average monthly utility bill is $150.06. After he’s paid his rent and utilities, he has only $229 for food and other expenses. This doesn’t leave him with much money to save or to spend on any emergencies.

Feeling the pinch of lowered real income, minimum wage employees and their advocates have gone to great lengths since the 2010s to raise awareness about the plight of low-wage workers.

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How Higher Minimum Wages Impact Employment

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The debate about the effect increases in the minimum wage have on employment is ongoing. Some studies find either no or only a small effect , while others find significant effects . A study recently published in the American Economic Review provides new evidence that increases in the minimum wage reduce employment in the long run.

Economists often try to estimate the slope of a demand curve by looking for events that change the supply of the good in question but not demand. For example, unexpected good weather that boosts the tomato crop would increase the supply of tomatoes but wouldnt affect demand, and this would allow economists to estimate how consumers respond to the supply increase.

But increases in the supply of labor are different. Unlike tomatoes, an increase in labor may also affect the demand for labor. This could occur for two reasons. First, more people can mean more demand for products already being produced. That, in turn, means established firms would need to expand to meet the increase in demand.

Second, demand can also increase if some of the new workers start their own businesses and thus demand additional workers. So while more tomatoes wont demand even more tomatoes, more workers may demand even more workers. These dynamics make it tricky to estimate the effects of wage increases.

effects of min. wage increases

Beaudry, Paul, David A. Green, and Ben M. Sand. 2018.

How Does The Minimum Wage Affect Teens Futures

High minimum wage rates hurt teens chance at learning valuable life skills that cannot be taught in a classroom. When entry-level job hunters are able to find work, they earn more than just a paycheck. They learn valuable life skills like the importance of meeting deadlines, how to report to a manager, and how to get along with coworkers. These are lessons that are not taught in a classroom setting, and the job experience young employees acquire sets them up for future success with promotions and raises beyond the minimum wage.

Employers are less likely to hire an inexperienced employee such as a teen when the minimum wage increases. However, when the minimum wage climbs, employers seek out experienced applicants because of the higher cost of labor. Companies likely to take a chance on young workers become skittish, and so teens are shut out of the job hunt and the opportunity to learn those life lessons is delayed. Ultimately, giving the cold shoulder to low-skilled teen applicants denies them on-the-job training while providing a raise for the more experienced workers who are able to get those dwindling jobs.

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Research Shows Minimum Wage Increases Do Not Cause Job Loss

Extensive research refutes the claim that increasing the minimum wage causes increased unemployment and business closures.

The buying power of the minimum wage reached its peak in 1968 at $12.71, adjusting for the cost of living in 2021 dollars. The unemployment rate went from 3.8% in 1967 to 3.6% in 1968 to 3.5% in 1969. The next time the unemployment rate came close to those levels was after the minimum wage raises of 1996 and 1997. Business Week observed in 2001, Many economists have backed away from the argument that minimum wage lead to fewer jobs.

Numerous states raised their minimum wages above the federal level during the 1997-2007 period the federal minimum wage remained stuck at $5.15. Research by the Fiscal Policy Institute and others showed that states that raised their minimum wages above the federal level experienced better employment and small business trends than states that did not.

A series of rigorous studies by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment beginning in 2008 significantly advanced the research on minimum wage employment effects. Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders compared all neighboring counties in the U.S. located on different sides of a state border with different minimum wage levels between 1990 and 2006 and found no adverse employment effects from higher minimum wages.

Selected Research in chronological order

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