Keywords: Minimum wage, NLSY
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.
Full paper (1855 KB PDF)
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Last update: October 20, 1999