IRLE Minimum Wage Group Influences National, State and Local Debates

This corpus of policy briefs, reports and academic research has greatly influenced the widespread public and academic debates about the future of U.S. minimum wage policy. The national media closely follows the release of IRLE publications and is quick to seek the opinions of many of our experts.

Much of the academic minimum wage research at IRLE is spearheaded by Professor Michael Reich and Dr. Sylvia Allegretto, co-chairs of the Center for Wage and Employment Dynamics (CWED) at IRLE.

Other minimum wage researchers at IRLE include Ken Jacobs, Chair of the Center for Labor Research and Education (CLRE) and Annette Bernhardt, Senior Researcher, CLRE. In addition to the CWED publications listed below, CLRE publishes a variety of research and resources on minimum wages, including the Inventory of US City and County Minimum Wage Ordinances.

CWED Minimum Wage Publications

The Ups and Downs of Minimum Wage Policy: The Fair Labor Standards Act in Historical Perspective
  –  Scholarly Publications

Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 54(4):538-546. October 2015.

I provide here a historical overview of the impact of minimum wage legislation, enacted over 75 years ago in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 and as amended subsequently on numerous occasions.

Given elected officials’ caution today about raising the minimum wage in bad economic times, the timing of the passage of the FLSA is remarkable. After a long and heated political debate, Congress passed the FLSA in 1938, establishing a nationwide minimum wage of $0.25 per hour, with increases to $0.30 in 1939 and to $0.40 in 1945. Importantly, the federal minimum wage established a floor, not a ceiling. States and localities could enact higher minimum wages—although none did until the 1980s.

The Effects of Minimum Wages on the Economy and on Inequality
  –  Scholarly Publications

Reich, Michael. “The Effects of Minimum Wages on the Economy and on Inequality.” In conference volume, Wage Policies for a Better Future: Minimum Wage Regimes and Income-Led Growth in Comparative Perspective, Korea Labor Institute. November 2015. In English and Korean.

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