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

2010
Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Estimates Using Contiguous Counties
, and   –  Scholarly Publications

Review of Economics and Statistics, 92(4):945-964. November, 2010.

Abstract
We use policy discontinuities at state borders to identify the effects of minimum wages on earnings and employment in restaurants and other low-wage sectors. Our approach generalizes the case study method by considering all local differences in minimum wage policies between 1990 and 2006. We compare all contiguous county pairs in the United States that straddle a state border and find no adverse employment effects. We show that traditional approaches that do not account for local economic conditions tend to produce spurious negative effects due to spatial heterogeneities in employment trends that are unrelated to minimum wage policies. Our findings are robust to allowing for long-term effects of minimum wage changes.
2007
The Economic Impacts of a Citywide Minimum Wage
, and   –  Scholarly Publications

Industrial and Labor Relations Review 60(4):522-543. July 2007. Cornell University, School of Industrial & Labor Relations.

Abstract
This paper presents the first study of the economic effects of a citywide minimum wage— San Francisco’s adoption of a minimum wage, set at $8.50 in 2004 and $9.14 by 2007. Compared to earlier benchmark studies by Card and Krueger and by Neumark and Wascher, this study surveys table-service as well as fast-food restaurants, includes more control groups, and collects data for more outcomes. The authors find that the policy increased worker pay and compressed wage inequality, but did not create any detectable employment loss among affected restaurants. The authors also find smaller amounts of measurement error than characterized the earlier studies, and so they can reject previous negative employment estimates with greater confidence. Fast-food and table-service restaurants responded differently to the policy, with a small price increase and substantial increases in job tenure and in the proportion of full-time workers among fast-food restaurants, but not among table-service restaurants.
2006
Basic Family Budgets: Working Families: Incomes Often Fail to Meet Living Expenses Around the United States
  –  Scholarly Publications

International Journal of Health Services 36(3):443–454. 2006.

Abstract
The ability of families to meet their most basic needs is an important measure of economic stability and well-being. While poverty thresholds are used to evaluate the extent of serious economic deprivation in our society, family budgets—that is, the income a family needs to secure safe and decent-yet-modest living standards in the community in which it resides—offer a broader measure of economic welfare. Basic family budgets take into account differences in both geographic location and family type. In total, this report presents basic budgets for more than 400 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children). That the budgets differ by location is important, since certain costs, such as housing, vary significantly depending on where one resides. This geographic dimension of family budget measurements offers a comparative advantage over using poverty thresholds, which only use a national baseline in their measurements.
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