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Minimum Wages and Aggregate Job Growth: Causal Effect or Statistical Artifact?

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  • Dube, Arindrajit

    (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Abstract

A recent paper by Meer and West argues that minimum wages reduce aggregate employment growth, and that this relationship is masked by looking at employment levels. I also find a negative association between minimum wages and aggregate employment growth using both the Business Dynamics Statistics and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages datasets, and it is sizable for some time periods. However, I show that this negative association is present in exactly the wrong sectors. It is particularly strong in manufacturing which hires very few minimum wage workers. At the same time, there is no such association in retail, or in accommodation and food services – which together hire nearly 2/3 of all minimum wage workers. These results indicate that the negative association between minimum wages and aggregate employment growth does not represent a causal relationship. Rather the association stems from an inability to account for differences between high and low minimum wage states and the timing of minimum wage increases. Consistent with that interpretation, when I use bordering counties to construct more credible control groups, I find no such negative correlation between minimum wages and overall employment growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Dube, Arindrajit, 2013. "Minimum Wages and Aggregate Job Growth: Causal Effect or Statistical Artifact?," IZA Discussion Papers 7674, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7674
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sylvia Allegretto & Arindrajit Dube & Michael Reich & Ben Zipperer, 2017. "Credible Research Designs for Minimum Wage Studies," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 70(3), pages 559-592, May.
    2. Laura Giuliano, 2013. "Minimum Wage Effects on Employment, Substitution, and the Teenage Labor Supply: Evidence from Personnel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 155-194.
    3. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 772-793, September.
    4. Sylvia A. Allegretto & Arindrajit Dube & Michael Reich, 2011. "Do Minimum Wages Really Reduce Teen Employment? Accounting for Heterogeneity and Selectivity in State Panel Data," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 205-240, April.
    5. Addison, John T. & Blackburn, McKinley L. & Cotti, Chad D., 2009. "Do minimum wages raise employment? Evidence from the U.S. retail-trade sector," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 397-408, August.
    6. Neumark, David & Salas, J.M. Ian & Wascher, William, 2013. "Revisiting the Minimum Wage-Employment Debate: Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater?," IZA Discussion Papers 7166, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Alan B. Krueger & David Card, 2000. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1397-1420, December.
    8. Jonathan Meer & Jeremy West, 2016. "Effects of the Minimum Wage on Employment Dynamics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(2), pages 500-522.
    9. John Schmitt, 2013. "Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment?," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2013-04, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    10. 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 318-350, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Clemens, Jeffrey & Wither, Michael, 2019. "The minimum wage and the Great Recession: Evidence of effects on the employment and income trajectories of low-skilled workers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 53-67.
    2. Jaerim Choi & Ivan Rivadeneyra & Kenia Ramirez, 2021. "Labor Market Effects of a Minimum Wage: Evidence from Ecuadorian Monthly Administrative Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 8987, CESifo.
    3. Obeng, Samuel Kwabena, 2015. "An empirical analysis of the relationship between minimum wage, investment and economic growth in Ghana," MPRA Paper 65674, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Tat Hui, Weng & Toh, Ruby., 2014. "Growth with equity in Singapore : challenges and prospects," ILO Working Papers 994850173402676, International Labour Organization.
    5. Shaun Gilyard & Marta Podemska-Mikluch, 2020. "Effects of Local, State, and Federal Minimum Wage on Employment Growth among Teenagers in the Restaurant Industry," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 26(1), pages 89-101, February.
    6. Vincent Geloso, 2016. "The Turnover-Reducing Effects of the Minimum Wage may Harm the Economy," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(3), pages 318-325, October.
    7. Vera Bitsch & Stefan Mair & Marta M. Borucinska & Christiane A. Schettler, 2017. "Introduction of a Nationwide Minimum Wage: Challenges to Agribusinesses in Germany," Economia agro-alimentare, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 19(1), pages 13-34.
    8. David Neumark & JM Salas & William Wascher, 2014. "More on recent evidence on the effects of minimum wages in the United States," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-26, December.
    9. John Addison & McKinley Blackburn & Chad Cotti, 2015. "On the robustness of minimum wage effects: geographically-disparate trends and job growth equations," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-16, December.
    10. Amanda Y. Agan & Michael D. Makowsky, 2018. "The Minimum Wage, EITC, and Criminal Recidivism," Working Papers 616, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    11. Haroon Bhorat & Tara Caetano & Benjamin Jourdan & Ravi Kanbur & Christopher Rooney & Benjamin Stanwix & Ingrid Woolard, 2016. "Investigating the Feasibility of a National Minimum Wage for South Africa," Working Papers 201601, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    12. repec:ilo:ilowps:485017 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Obeng, Samuel Kwabena, 2015. "An Empirical Analysis of the Relationship between Minimum Wage, Investment and Economic Growth in Ghana," African Journal of Economic Review, African Journal of Economic Review, vol. 3(2), July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    minimum wage; employment growth;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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