Are the Effects of Minimum Wage Increases Always Small? New Evidence from a Case Study of New York State
The authors estimate the effect of the 2004–6 New York State (NYS) minimum wage increase from $5.15 to $6.75 per hour on the employment rates of 16- to 29-year-olds who do not have a high school diploma. Using data drawn from the 2004 and 2006 Current Population Survey, they employ difference-in-difference estimates to show that the NYS minimum wage increase is associated with a 20.2% to 21.8% reduction in the employment of less-skilled, less-educated workers, with the largest effects on those aged 16 to 24. Their estimates imply a median employment elasticity with respect to the minimum wage of around –0.7, large relative to previous researchers’ estimates. The authors’ findings are robust to their choice of geographically proximate comparison states, the use of a more highly skilled within-state comparison group, and a synthetic control design approach. Moreover, their results provide plausible evidence that state minimum wage increases can have substantial adverse labor demand effects for low-skilled individuals that are outside previous elasticity estimates, ranging from –0.1 to –0.3.