The Effect of the Minimum Wage on the Fast Food Industry
Using a longitudinal survey of fast-food restaurants in Texas, the authors examine the impact of recent increases in the federal minimum wage on a low-wage labor market. Less than 5% of fast-food restaurants were using the new youth subminimum wage in July/August 1991, even though the vast majority paid a starting wage below the new hourly minimum wage immediately before it became effective. Although some restaurants increased wages beyond the level needed to comply with higher minimum wages in both 1990 and 1991, those federal minimum wage increases greatly compressed the distribution of starting wages in the Texas fast-food industry. Two findings at variance with conventional predictions are that (1) employment increased more in those firms likely to have been most affected by the 1991 minimum wage increase than in other firms and (2) price changes were unrelated to mandated wage changes.
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NBER Working Papers
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