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Product market evidence on the employment effects of the minimum wage

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  • Daniel Aaronson
  • Eric French

Abstract

We calibrate a model of labor demand to infer the employment response to a change in the minimum wage in the food away from home industry. Assuming a perfectly competitive labor market, the model predicts a 2.5 to 3.5 percent fall in employment in response to a 10 percent minimum wage change. We then introduce monopsony power in local labor markets. We identify the extent of monopsony power using information on the degree to which minimum wage cost shocks are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Whereas the competitive model implies that employment falls and prices rise in response to an increase in the minimum wage, the monopsony model potentially implies that employment can rise and prices fall in response to an increase in the minimum wage. Previous research shows that prices rise in response to an increase in the minimum wage. We show that this price response is consistent with the prediction of the competitive model. Calibrating the full model, we can place fairly tight bounds on the elasticity of demand for labor with the most plausible parameter values suggesting a 2 to 3 percent loss in employment in reaction to a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-03-17.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-03-17

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Keywords: Wages ; Employment (Economic theory);

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  1. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne & Stanger, Shuchita, 1999. "The Highs and Lows of the Minimum Wage Effect: A Time-Series Cross-Section Study of the Canadian Law," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 318-50, April.
  2. Daniel Aaronson, 2001. "Price Pass-Through And The Minimum Wage," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 158-169, February.
  3. Daniel Aaronson & Eric French & James MacDonald, 2008. "The Minimum Wage, Restaurant Prices, and Labor Market Structure," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 688-720.
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