For the first time, a group of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis used a big-data approach to determine the effects of minimum-wage changes on business. Two professors and two doctoral candidates from the Olin Business School processed wage data on more than 2 million hourly workers from across the country over a six-year period. The results? There are winners and losers.
…“We found existing minimum-wage employees benefit from minimum-wage increases,” [co-author Radhakrishnan] Gopalan said. “Their wages go up, and they are no more likely to lose their jobs as compared to their counterparts in adjacent states. But following state minimum-wage hikes, companies are reluctant to hire new low-wage employees. In the one year following the wage hike, they increase the proportion of higher-wage (read: higher-skilled) employees and reduce the proportion of low-wage employees.”
…“For an area experiencing fast growth, having a high minimum wage will be a bad deal for the new entrants as they might have a tougher time finding a job. On the other hand, if you’re in an area whose population is not growing very fast, then raising the minimum wage will definitely benefit your existing low-wage employees, and the number of new employees who are hurt will be a minimum. Optimal policy will also depend on the industry composition of the establishments in the local economy.”