IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Do Minimum Wage Laws Affect People Who Are Not Covered? Evidence from Documented and Undocumented, Hourly and Piece Rate Workers in U.S. Agriculture


  • Anita Alves Pena

    (Colorado State University)


While a stated goal of minimum wage increases is to benefit low-income workers, some employers are not obligated to provide at least minimum wages to all employees. U.S. farm employers comprise one of these groups. Employees of large farms and H2-A workers (temporary nonimmigrant workers lawfully admitted to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural services) are protected by minimum wage legislation, while other migrant workers (especially those who are paid piece rate) are exempt. Furthermore, U.S. agriculture is characterized by a large percentage of illegal migrants, and workers who are illegal may or may not receive wages above minimum levels. This paper presents a case study, drawing from agriculture, that examines if and how minimum wage laws affect uncovered workers. Analysis examines wages and hours worked as functions of federal and state minimum wages using data from a nationally and regionally representative survey of employed farm workers. Results suggest wage increases for both covered and uncovered workers, greatest gains to those who are formally covered, and gains not being at the expense of hours worked.

Suggested Citation

  • Anita Alves Pena, 2013. "Do Minimum Wage Laws Affect People Who Are Not Covered? Evidence from Documented and Undocumented, Hourly and Piece Rate Workers in U.S. Agriculture," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 13-194, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:13-194

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: This material is copyrighted. Permission is required to reproduce any or all parts.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tauchen, George E, 1981. "Some Evidence on Cross-Sector Effects of the Minimum Wage," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 529-547, June.
    2. 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.
    3. David Neumark & Mark Schweitzer & William Wascher, 2005. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on the Distribution of Family Incomes: A Nonparametric Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 867-894.
    4. Mincer, Jacob, 1976. "Unemployment Effects of Minimum Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 87-104, August.
    5. Bell, Linda A, 1997. "The Impact of Minimum Wages in Mexico and Colombia," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 102-135, July.
    6. Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2008. "The Effect of Minimum Wages on Immigrants' Employment and Earnings," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 61(4), pages 544-563, July.
    7. Moretti, Enrico & Perloff, Jeffrey M., 2000. "Minimum Wage Laws Lower Some Agricultural Wages," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt51k1v5hf, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    8. Robin Gowers & Timothy J. Hatton, 1997. "The Origins and Early Impact of the Minimum Wage in Agriculture," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 50(1), pages 82-103, February.
    9. William Wascher & David Neumark, 2000. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1362-1396, December.
    10. Cadena, Brian C., 2014. "Recent immigrants as labor market arbitrageurs: Evidence from the minimum wage," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 1-12.
    11. Alana Gilbert & Euan Phimister & Ioannis Theodossiou, 2001. "The Potential Impact of the Minimum Wage in Rural Areas," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(8), pages 765-770.
    12. John P. Formby & John A. Bishop & Hoseong Kim, 2010. "The Redistributive Effects and Cost-Effectiveness of Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage," Public Finance Review, , vol. 38(5), pages 585-618, September.
    13. Theodore P. Lianos, 1972. "Impact of Minimum Wages Upon the Level and Composition of Agricultural Employment," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 54(3), pages 477-484.
    14. Sara Lemos, 2004. "Minimum Wage Policy and Employment Effects: Evidence from Brazil," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, vol. 0(Fall 2004), pages 219-266, August.
    15. Lustig, N. & Mcleod, D., 1996. "Minimum Wages and Poverty in Developing Countries : Some Empirical Evidence," Papers 125, Brookings Institution - Working Papers.
    16. Bhaskar, V & To, Ted, 1999. "Minimum Wages for Ronald McDonald Monopsonies: A Theory of Monopsonistic Competition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 190-203, April.
    17. Seiler, Eric, 1984. "Piece Rate vs. Time Rate: The Effect of Incentives on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(3), pages 363-376, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    minimum wage exemptions; poverty; agriculture;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

    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:upj:weupjo:13-194. 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: (). 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.