April 10, 2014

HIKE WEALTH, NOT WAGES:

Why Are There So Few Job Losses from Minimum-Wage Hikes? (Richard B. McKenzie, 4/09/14, NCPA)

Employers compete with one another to reduce their labor costs, and that competition is expressed in a variety of ways in labor markets -- certainly in money wages, but also in terms of fringe benefits, work demands and all other forms of nonmoney compensation. Workers also compete for the available unskilled jobs. The competition among employers and workers will not disappear with a wage increase but will merely be redirected into the components of compensation packages not covered by the wage mandate. Wage floors, therefore, restrain competitive pressures in only one of the many ways in which businesses compete. With a minimum-wage increase, employers will move to cut labor costs in other areas. As such, employers are likely to reduce fringe benefits and/or increase work demands.

Indeed, past experience has confirmed the nonmonetary impact of a minimum-wage hike on workers, not only in reduced fringe benefits but in increased work demands and decreased job training. For example:

When the minimum wage was increased in 1967, economist Masanori Hashimoto found that workers gained 32 cents in money income but lost 41 cents per hour in training -- a net loss of 9 cents an hour in full-income compensation.

Similarly, Linda Leighton and Jacob Mincer in one study, and Belton Fleisher in another, concluded that increases in the minimum wage reduce on-the-job training and, as a result, dampen long-run growth in the real incomes of covered workers.

Additionally, North Carolina State University economist Walter Wessels determined that a wage increase caused New York retailers to increase work demands. In most stores, fewer workers were given fewer hours to do the same work as before.

More recently, Mindy Marks found that the $0.90 per hour increase in the federal minimum-wage rate in 1990 reduced the probability of workers receiving employer-provided health insurance from 66.2 percent to 63.1 percent, and increased the likelihood that covered workers would be reduced to part-time work by 26 percent.

Wessels also found that for every 10 percent increase in the minimum wage, workers lose 2 percent of nonmonetary compensation per hour. Extrapolating from Wessels' estimates, an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to only $9.00 an hour would make covered workers worse off by 35 cents an hour.

And if the minimum wage were raised to $10.10 an hour, for example, the estimated 16.5 million workers earning between $7.25 and $10.10 could lose nonmonetary compensation more valuable than the $31 billion in additional wages they are expected to receive.
Posted by at April 10, 2014 5:24 AM
  
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