IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

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


  • Dube, Arindrajit

    () (University of Massachusetts Amherst)


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 for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7674

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Allegretto, Sylvia & Dube, Arindrajit & Reich, Michael & Zipperer, Ben, 2013. "Credible Research Designs for Minimum Wage Studies," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt3hk7s3fw, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    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. 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.
    5. 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 for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Jeffrey Clemens & Michael Wither, 2014. "The Minimum Wage and the Great Recession: Evidence of Effects on the Employment and Income Trajectories of Low-Skilled Workers," NBER Working Papers 20724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. 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..
    5. repec:ilo:ilowps:485017 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7674. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.