IZA DP No. 3300: The Effect of Minimum Wages on Wages and Employment: County-Level Estimates for the United States
published online in: British Journal of Industrial Relations, 2012, 50 (3), 412-435.
We use county-level data on employment and earnings in the restaurant-and-bar sector to evaluate the impact of minimum wage changes on low-wage labor markets. Our empirical approach is similar to the literature that has used state-level panel data to estimate minimum-wage impacts, with the difference that we focus on a particular sector rather than demographic group. Our estimated models are consistent with a simple competitive model of the restaurant-and-bar labor market in which supply-and-demand factors affect both the equilibrium outcome and the probability that a minimum wage will be binding in any given time period. Our evidence does not suggest that minimum wages reduce employment in the overall restaurant-and-bar sector, after controls for trends in sector employment at the county level are incorporated in the model. Employment in this sector appears to exhibit a downward long-term trend in states that have increased their minimum wages relative to states that have not, thereby predisposing fixed-effects estimates towards finding negative employment effects.