Who are the workers who earn minimum wage? The answer to this question sheds light on how we respond to the demand for higher wages. If they are teens, then they will presumably seek an education and better their lives. If they are moms who want to earn a little extra money for her household, then we don’t need to worry about her income as much. According to the BLS.gov, most workers are young, work in food service, and are single. See: Bureau of Labor Statistics Minimum Wage Report (Links to an external site.) According to the LAO.org, in California, the minimum wage workers are also young but not teens, many of them are married with children, and work in retail and food service. See: LAO Article on minimum wage impacts (Links to an external site.) The minimum wage is a price floor that sets a legal minimum that can be paid to low-skilled workers. In the standard economic model of supply and demand in the low-skilled labor market, a price floor would create a surplus of labor or unemployment. In the economics profession there have been many studies that actually illustrates that in unique markets (such as fast food in NY City or restaurant workers in Seattle, WA) when the minimum wage increases, there is very little unemployment causes by the increase. This is such a quandary that the Federal Reserve of San Francisco studies and then summarized all of these studies. The conclusion to this survey of the literature and the answer to the question above, can be determined by reading about the elasticity of the low-skilled labor market in the Fed’s article below: Federal Reserve Summary of the effect of raising the minimum wage (Links to an external site.) (Pay close attention to the elasticities of the teen and younger persons-this ilustrates that the Supply of labor is very unique for low-skilled work.) If raising the minimum wage doesn’t cause much unemployment, are there other impacts such are on inflation, poverty or educational attainment? There are a few other impacts that raising the minimum wage can have on low-skilled workers. To learn more about the inflation and poverty impacts, read the following articles: Does Raising a Minimum Wage Cause Inflation? Dollars and Sense article on minimum wage impacts (Links to an external site.) Does Raising the Minimum Wage Reduce Poverty? Federal Reserve article on how raising the minimum wage can reduce poverty (Links to an external site.) 1. Does raising the minimum wage cause unemployment of low-skilled workers, in general? 2. Does raising the minimum wage cause inflation? 3. Does raising the minimum wage help to reduce poverty? 4. How does the cost of a Higher Education factor in to this discussion?
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