, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 393-413

Do minimum wage hikes reduce employment? State-level evidence from the low-wage retail sector

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Abstract

Several recent studies have challenged the conventional notion that raising the minimum wage reduces employment. This study considers this issue by examining the minimum wage's influence on retail employment. Standard labor market analysis suggests that low-wage industries should be particularly sensitive to minimum wage hikes. Therefore, by considering retail employment using pooled-cross sectional, state-level data, this study extends recent research that generally emphasized teen employment. The empirical analysis considers state data from the latter 1980's, a unique period where many states raised their minimum wage above the federal level. Our results suggest that an increased minimum wage reduces retail employment, which is consistent with the standard labor market model. Moreover, further analysis indicates that minimum wage hikes also had relatively large adverse effects on total state employment growth, which implies that state minimum-wage policies can affect firm and household location.

We thank Dan Rickman and the anonymous referee for their help with this study.