Employment Effects of the Federal Minimum Wage

John F. Boschen, Herschel I. Grossman

NBER Working Paper No. 812
Issued in December 1981
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Labor Studies

This paper describes an empirical study of the effects of federal minimum wage policy on aggregate employment, on the employment of various demographic groups, and on employment in low-wage industries. The analytical framework permits separate testing both for direct employment effects of the level and coverage of the minimum wage and for indirect employment effects resulting from a possible role for the minimum wage as a cause of monetary nonneutrality. Another innovation in this study is the inclusion of rational expectations of expected future relative minimum wages as determinants of the demands and supplies of labor services. The study finds that minimum-wage policy seems not to affect aggregate employment or average wages either directly or indirectly. Minimum-wage policy, however, has large and statistically significant effects on the industrial and demographic composition of employment, with employment decreasing in certain low-wage industries and for teenagers and for young men but increasing for young women and for adults. A major part of these effects are associated with anticipated future changes in the level of the minimum wage.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0812

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