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Finance and Economics Discussion Series
The Finance and Economics Discussion Series logo links to FEDS home page Minimum Wage Careers?
William J. Carrington and Bruce C. Fallick

Abstract: This paper investigates the extent to which people spend careers on minimum wage jobs. We find that a small but non-trivial number of NLSY respondents spend 25%, 50%, or even 75% of the first ten years of their career on minimum or near-minimum wage jobs. Workers with these minimum wage careers tend to be drawn from groups such as women, blacks, and the less-educated that are generally overrepresented in the low-wage population. The results indicate that lifetime incomes of some workers may be supported by a minimum wage. At the same time, these same groups would be disproportionately affected by any minimum wage-induced disemployment. The results suggest that minimum wage legislation has non-negligible effects on the lifetime opportunities of a significant minority of workers.

Keywords: Minimum wage, NLSY

Full paper (1855 KB PDF)

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Last update: October 20, 1999