ECON 365 Great Basin College Labor Unions and the Minimum Wage Legislation Essay

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ECON 365

Great Basin College



Please answer in essay form the following questions:

1) Does the minimum wage hurt the people it intends to help? Why or why not? What actions may employers take when minimum wage legislation is passed? Are you in favor of or against minimum wage legislation? Pick a stance but support your argument with economic reasoning.

2) How can labor unions be viewed an unjust and immoral? Do labor unions help or hinder employees? Explain how many industries have high wages without the use of unions...banking, finance, insurance, etc. Are you in favor of or against labor unions? Pick a stance but support your argument with economic reasoning.

Exams will be essay in nature taken from the articles read in the modules. The exams will have questions for each student to answer in a thorough well-written essay. All modules are available for your viewing pleasure so you will have ample time to research the questions and write a compelling essay to demonstrate your knowledge of subject matter.

It is important for students to use the terms and concepts of this course, all tests and homework assignments will require the student to use vocabulary and apply the concepts introduced with various scenarios and practical examples, whenever possible. The primary goal of each exam and assignment is to allow the student an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of the course concepts.

Students will be required to submit thorough essays (750 to 1500 words excluding reference page, cover page and abstract) that answer all questions applying to the assignment and provided by the Instructor. Do not submit as either a numbered Q&A or as a bulleted list of data, rather submit a completed written paper. It is in the best interest of the student to not wait until the last minute to work on and submit writing assignments. The stress and feeling of being overwhelmed can be avoided by using time management and not procrastinating in the completion of the writing assignments.

The students should relate the articles to the textbook materials and issues. All students should do any internet and/or library database research required prior to writing the response, multiple sources adds to the credibility of the paper. Ensure that proper grammar, sentence structure, and materials citations are included for maximum point consideration. Neglecting to cite other authors original material is plagiarism and will be graded accordingly (see the Academic Honesty Section of the syllabus), include properly formatted reference pages with your written assignments. A minimum of two (2) reference sources in addition to the articles read are required.

Submit as an attachment in proper APA format as a Microsoft Word documents only with proper grammar, spelling, citations and reference pages. Access Great Basin College’s Academic Success Center web page for resources to aid in proper formatting to an external site.. Anticipate approximately one (1) week turnaround time for grading all written assignments.

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Published on Downsizing the Federal Government ( The Negative Effects of Minimum Wage Laws by Mark Wilson∗ September 2012 Overview Background Who Is Paid the Minimum Wage? Modeling the Minimum Wage The Effect of Minimum Wages on Employment Other Effects of Minimum Wages Minimum Wages and Poverty Conclusions Overview The federal government through the Department of Labor has imposed a minimum wage since 1938. Nearly all the state governments also impose minimum wages. These laws prevent employers from paying wages below a mandated level. While the aim is to help workers, decades of economic research show that minimum wages usually end up harming workers and the broader economy. Minimum wages particularly stifle job opportunities for low-skill workers, youth, and minorities, which are the groups that policymakers are often trying to help with these policies. There is no "free lunch" when the government mandates a minimum wage. If the government requires that certain workers be paid higher wages, then businesses make adjustments to pay for the added costs, such as reducing hiring, cutting employee work hours, reducing benefits, and charging higher prices. Some policymakers may believe that companies simply absorb the costs of minimum wage increases through reduced profits, but that's rarely the case. Instead, businesses rationally respond to such mandates by cutting employment and making other decisions to maintain their net earnings. These behavioral responses usually offset the positive labor market results that policymakers are hoping for. This study reviews the economic models used to understand minimum wage laws and examines the empirical evidence. It describes why most of the academic evidence points to negative effects from minimum wages, and discusses why some studies may produce seemingly positive results. Some federal and state policymakers are currently considering increases in minimum wages, but such policy changes would be particularly damaging in today's sluggish economy. Instead, federal and state governments should focus on policies that generate faster economic growth, which would generate rising wages and more opportunities for all workers. Background The federal minimum wage originated in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) signed by President Franklin Roosevelt on June 25, 1938. The law established a minimum wage of 25 cents per hour for all employees who produced products shipped in interstate commerce. That wage is equivalent to $4.04 in today's purchasing power. Originally, the FLSA covered only about 38 percent of the labor force, mostly in the manufacturing, mining, and transportation industries.1 Over the years, Congress has significantly expanded the coverage and increased the minimum wage rate. The air transport industry was added in 1947, followed by retail trade in 1961. The construction industry, public schools, farms, laundries, and nursing homes were added in 1966, and coverage was extended to state and local government employees in 1974. Currently, the FLSA covers about 85 percent of the labor force.2 Since 1938 the federal minimum wage has been raised 22 times. From 1949 to 1968 the real value of the minimum wage (in 2011 dollars) rose rapidly from $3.78 to $10.34. At $7.25 per hour, the minimum wage today in real dollars is 85 percent greater than the original benchmark, and just below its average for the past 60 years of $7.59. Since the 1970s, the federal minimum wage has fluctuated around roughly 40 percent of the average private sector hourly wage. The FLSA requires employers to comply with state minimum wage laws that may set a state minimum wage rate higher than the federal rate.3 Currently, 45 states and the District of Columbia have their own minimum wages, of which 18 are higher than the current federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.4 Only five states do not have their own minimum wage laws and rely on the FLSA. Moreover, even state minimum wages that are below the federal minimum often have an effect because they can apply to employers or workers who are exempt from the federal statute. Who Is Paid the Minimum Wage? Supporters of minimum wages might believe that these laws mainly help to boost the incomes of full-time adult workers in low-income families, some of whom are supporting children. However, the data generally do not support that view. Most workers earning the minimum wage are young workers, part-time workers, or workers from non-poor families. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.8 million paid-hourly employees were paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 in 2010.5 These 1.8 million employees can be broken down into two broad groups: Roughly half (49.0 percent) are teenagers or young adults aged 24 or under. A large majority (62.2 percent) of this group live in families with incomes two or more times the official poverty level.6 Looking just at the families of teenaged minimum wage workers, the average income is almost $70,600, and only 16.8 percent are below the poverty line.7 Note that the federal minimum wage applies to workers of all ages.8 The other half (51.0 percent) are aged 25 and up.9 More of these workers live in poor families (29.2 percent) or near the poverty level (46.2 percent had family incomes less than 1.5 times the poverty level).10 However, even within this half of all minimum wage employees, 24.8 percent voluntarily work part-time, and just 34.3 percent are full-time full-year employees.11 Only 20.8 percent of all minimum wage workers are family heads or spouses working full time, 30.8 percent were children, and 32.2 percent are young Americans enrolled in school.12 The popular belief that minimum wage workers are poor adults (25 years old or older), working full time and trying to raise a family is largely untrue. Just 4.7 percent match that description.13 Indeed, many minimum wage workers live in families with incomes well above the poverty level. Modeling the Minimum Wage When economists want to understand the effects of a policy change, they build a model or set of equations to figure out how variables such as wages and prices might be affected. There have been decades of research on the effects of the minimum wage, and economists have used three types of models to explore the issue: competitive, monopsony, and institutional. With each of these models, the cost increase associated with the minimum wage changes the behavior of firms, with resulting impacts on workers, consumers, owners, and others. The three alternative models emphasize different types of adjustments that employers use to adapt to increases in the minimum wage. Much of the empirical research has focused on estimating how much an increase in the minimum wage will reduce employment in affected industries and affected groups of workers. Other research has examined the effects of minimum wages on the number of hours worked, firm profits, worker training, level of work effort, human resource practices, operational efficiencies, internal wage structures, and other parameters. The important thing to understand is that markets often respond to changes in mandated minimum wages in ways that create negative effects that are unplanned and are not desired by policymakers or the general public. Basic Competitive Model The competitive model has been most often used for evaluating the minimum wage. This is the basic textbook model that has been taught in university economics courses for decades. The core components of the model are a negatively sloped labor demand curve and a wage rate that clears the market and is not controlled by individual agents. In competitive markets, the imposition of a minimum wage provides a classic example of a government distortion that creates negative side effects in the marketplace. The figure shows a hypothetical competitive local labor market. The market demand curve for labor is DD, and the market supply curve is SS. Their intersection determines the competitive wage, Wc, with employment Ec. If the minimum wage is set at Wm, employment is reduced to Em. The reduction in employment is smaller than the excess supply of labor (the distance AC). The excess supply of labor includes both a reduction in employment (fewer hours and job opportunities, or AB) along with a second component consisting of workers who are drawn into the labor market by the prospect of earning the higher minimum wage (BC). Although some of the workers who are drawn into the labor market (typically those with higher skills) may succeed in finding one of the minimum wage jobs, it comes at the expense of lower skilled workers who are shut out of the labor market. The excess supply of labor in this example is dispersed in several ways: 1) a reduction in hours, fewer job opportunities, and a shift in employment from sectors covered by the wage law to sectors not covered, including the underground economy. The employment effects are typically the most pronounced in labor markets for low-skilled youth. In the case of a nationwide minimum wage, large numbers of firms will be affected, albeit by different amounts depending on the industry, region of the country, and other factors. In addition to the mandated cost increase possibly causing employment reductions, a portion of the higher wage costs may be passed forward to consumers or backward to other workers or suppliers of business inputs. In some circumstances, firms may reduce work hours, such as with fixed employment costs and worker heterogeneity, but maintain headcount. The employment and hours worked may also be affected by wage-related changes in employee productivity. Other channels of adjustment in the competitive model besides employment reductions include reduced job training, reductions in worker benefits, the substitution of more skilled labor for less-skilled labor, reduced turnover and more selective hiring, and a greater ease in filling vacancies. If the minimum wage reduces profitability below the normal level, the number of businesses and investment in affected industries may shrink over time until normal returns are restored. In sum, the textbook competitive model assumes that firms respond to minimum wage increases by minimizing other production costs and by making various adjustments to offset the negative effects on their bottom line. Monopsony Model Some economists think that some labor markets may better approximate monopsonies rather than being fully competitive, and their models of the minimum wage may produce different results than the competitive models. A classic monopsony is a market with only a few employers in a particular marketplace. These firms have more market power than firms in competitive markets. Since 1990 the monopsony model of labor markets has increasingly been the focus of empirical minimum wage research. In newer or dynamic versions of the monopsony model, it is labor market frictions related to hiring, turnover, search, and mobility costs on the supply side that drive the model. Although the particulars differ, the core components of monopsony models are an upward sloping labor supply curve facing firms and some employer discretion in wage setting. Competitive and monopsony models offer different predictions about the employment effects of minimum wage changes. For minimum wage increases that push below-competitive wages toward competitive levels, monopsony models predict employment and/or hours will rise rather than fall. However, minimum wage increases above competitive levels will decrease employment, just as in the competitive model. The rise in employment in the first case will also expand industry output until the minimum wage equals the competitive wage and product prices should fall. In a classic monopsony, profits fall and the firms may exit in the long run. In new monopsony models, savings from decreased turnover may offset the profit effect. Unlike the competitive model, expenditures on general training may increase because the monopsony employer can capture some of the return. While the results of monopsony models are interesting, most economists don't think the results are generally applicable because few lowwage employers are large enough to face an upward-sloping labor supply curve that typically characterizes an entire labor market.14 Institutional Model Institutional (or behavioral) models of labor markets were often used for evaluating the minimum wage up until the 1950s, but this approach has gradually faded from use. The institutional model draws on the concepts in behavioral economics and emphasizes (1) the rejection of a well-defined downward sloping labor demand curve, (2) the fact that labor markets are imperfectly competitive, institutionally segmented, socially embedded, and prone to excess supply, and (3) the fact that technological and psycho-social factors in firms and internal labor markets are determinants of cost and productivity. A key proposition of economists who favor institutional labor market models is that moderate minimum wage increases may, in the shortrun, have either no employment effect or a small positive effect. The expected response of employers to a minimum wage increase is not to lay off workers but to search for ways to absorb the cost impact by expanding sales, improving service, and general economic expansion. It is also believed that costs from the minimum wage are partially offset by reducing organizational slack and improved productivity. That is achieved through tighter human resource practices (such as better scheduling), increased performance standards, increased work effort, and enhanced customer service. Costs that cannot be absorbed are passed on customers through higher prices. The institutional model also predicts that a higher minimum wage leads to a "ripple effect" in the internal wage structure as firms raise the pay of above-minimum wage employees to maintain morale while still allowing for some internal wage compression among employees with higher seniority. The Effect of Minimum Wages on Employment Despite the use of different models to understand the effects of minimum wages, all economists agree that businesses will make changes to adapt to the higher labor costs after a minimum wage increase. Empirical research seeks to determine what changes to variables such as employment and prices firms will make, and how large those changes will be. The higher costs will be passed on to someone in the long run; the only question is who. The important thing for policymakers to remember is that a decision to increase the minimum wage is not cost-free; someone has to pay for it. The main finding of economic theory and empirical research over the past 70 years is that minimum wage increases tend to reduce employment. The higher the minimum wage relative to competitive-market wage levels, the greater the employment loss that occurs. While minimum wages ostensibly aim to improve the economic well-being of the working poor, the disemployment effects of a minimum wages have been found to fall disproportionately on the least skilled and on the most disadvantaged individuals, including the disabled, youth, have been found to fall disproportionately on the least skilled and on the most disadvantaged individuals, including the disabled, youth, lower-skilled workers, immigrants, and ethnic minorities.15 In his best-selling economics textbook, Harvard University's Greg Mankiw concludes: The minimum wage has its greatest impact on the market for teenage labor. The equilibrium wages of teenagers are low because teenagers are among the least skilled and least experienced members of the labor force. In addition, teenagers are often willing to accept a lower wage in exchange for on-the-job training. . . . As a result, the minimum wage is more often binding for teenagers than for other members of the labor force.16 Research by Marvin Kosters and Finis Welch shows that the minimum wage hurts low-wage workers particularly during cyclical downturns.17 And based on his studies, Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman observed: "The real tragedy of minimum wage laws is that they are supported by well-meaning groups who want to reduce poverty. But the people who are hurt most by higher minimums are the most poverty stricken."18 In a generally competitive labor market, employers bid for the most productive workers and the resulting wage distribution reflects the productivity of those workers. If the government imposes a minimum wage on the labor market, those workers whose productivity falls below the minimum wage will find few, if any, employment opportunities. The basic theory of competitive labor markets predicts that a minimum wage imposed above the market wage rate will reduce employment.19 Evidence of employment loss has been found since the earliest implementation of the minimum wage. The U.S. Department of Labor's own assessment of the first 25-cent minimum wage in 1938 found that it resulted in job losses for 30,000 to 50,000 workers, or 10 to 13 percent of the 300,000 covered workers who previously earned below the new wage floor.20 It is important to note that the limited industries and occupations covered by the 1938 FLSA accounted for only about 20 percent of the 30 million private sector, nonfarm, nonsupervisory, production workers employed in 1938. And of the roughly 6 million workers potentially covered by the law, only about 5 percent earned an hourly rate below the new minimum.21 Following passage of the federal minimum wage in 1938, economists began to accumulate statistical evidence on the effects. Much of the research has indicated that increases in the minimum wage have adverse effects on the employment opportunities of low-skilled workers.22 And across the country, the greatest adverse impact will generally occur in the poorer and lower-wage regions. In those regions, more workers and businesses are affected by the mandated wage, and businesses have to take more dramatic steps to adjust to the higher costs. As an example, with the original 1938 imposition of the minimum wage, the lower-income U.S. territory of Puerto Rico was severely affected. An estimated 120,000 workers in Puerto Rico lost their jobs within the first year of implementation of the new 25-cent minimum wage, and the island's unemployment rate soared to nearly 50 percent.23 Similar damaging effects were observed on American Samoa from minimum wage increases imposed between 2007 and 2009. Indeed, the effects were so pronounced on the island's economy that President Obama signed into law a bill postponing the minimum wage increases scheduled for 2010 and 2011.24 Concern over the scheduled 2012 increase of $0.50, compelled Governor Togiola Tulafono to testify before Congress: "We are watching our economy burn down. We know what to do to stop it. We need to bring the aggressive wage costs decreed by the Federal Government under control... Our job market is being torched. Our businesses are being depressed. Our hope for growth has been driven away."25 In 1977 ongoing debate about the minimum wage prompted Congress to create a Minimum Wage Study Commission to "help it resolve the many controversial issues that have surrounded the federal minimum wage and overtime requirement since their origin in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938."26 The commission published its report in May 1981, calling it "the most exhaustive inquiry ever undertaken into the issues surrounding the Act since its inception." 27 The landmark report included a wide variety of studies by a virtual ‘‘who's who'' of labor economists working in the United States at the time.28 A review of the economic literature amassed by the Commission by Charles Brown, Curtis Gilroy, and Andrew Kohen found that the "timeseries studies typically find that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage reduces teenage employment by one to three percent."29 This range subsequ...
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Running head: Labour Unions and the Minimum Wage Legislation

Labor Unions and the Minimum Wage Legislation

Instructor’s Name


Labor Unions and the Minimum Wage Legislation


A labor union is a movement that acts collectively to improve the working conditions and
the wages of the employees. The minimum wage legislation is enforced by the Wage and Hour
Division of the U.S Department of Labor to ensure employees are not paid below $15 per hour.
The essay seeks to discuss the negative and positive effects of the minimum wage legislation and
the labor union. The findings of the essay indicate that minimum wage results in an excess
supply of labor in the market, especially when the minimum wage is set above a market’s
equilibrium. Increasing minimum legislation impacts employees negatively in terms of reduced
worker benefits as well as reduced job training. Labor unions enable their members to join
various benefits such as flexible work life, retirement benefits and paid leave.

Labor Unions and the Minimum Wage Legislation


The federal minimum wage for covered non-exempt employees is $ 7.25 per hour,
according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The minimum wage legislation is enforced
by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S Department of Labor. The Wage and Hour Division
are struggling to ensure that the workers are paid the minimum wage through the use of both
enforcement and public education efforts. The minimum wage legislation will have both
negative and positive impacts on workers....

Really helped me to better understand my coursework. Super recommended.

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