Commentary

Before pulling the lever for a min wage hike

Consider this lit review conducted by David Neumark, William Wascher:

Clearly, no consensus now exists about the overall effects on low-skilled employment of an increase in the minimum wage. However, the oft-stated assertion that this recent research fails to support the traditional view that the minimum wage reduces the employment of low-skilled workers is clearly incorrect. The overwhelming majority of the studies surveyed in this paper give a relatively consistent (although not always statistically significant) indication of negative employment effects of minimum wages. In addition, among the papers we view as providing the most credible evidence, almost all point to negative employment effects. Moreover, the evidence tends to point to disemployment effects of minimum wages in the United States as well as many other countries. Two potentially more important conclusions emerge from our review. First, we see very few – if any – cases where a study provides convincing evidence of positive employment effects of minimum wages, especially from studies that focus on broader groups (rather than a narrow industry) for which the competitive model predicts disemployment effects. Second, when researchers focus on the least-skilled groups most likely to be adversely affected by minimum wages, we regard the evidence as relatively overwhelming that there are stronger disemployment effects for these groups.

More on NBER Working Paper No. 12663 here. Related: When Unions do the “exploiting”

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.