Political  Calculations

Does increasing the minimum wage increase GDP?

Bloggingstocks' Joseph Lazaro outlined the theory that it might back on 1 August 2009, shortly after the U.S. federal minimum wage reached its current level of $7.25 per hour (emphasis ours):

... the U.S. Federal Reserve will be monitoring prices and costs to see if the higher minimum wage is creating inflation havoc at a time when U.S. businesses least need another concern to deal with. Businesses have enough to worry about; and some are struggling just to maintain operations for another quarter or two -- the recession has been that damaging.

But the Fed will also be looking for signs of another side-effect, and this one is a positive one: a GDP boost. That's because millions of workers are going to get a raise that they otherwise would not have gotten, and that will increase their purchasing power.

The significance? Some of those increased-pay workers will choose to spend -- perhaps buying a washer or drier, making a down payment on a used car, or paying down a debt. It's quite possible -- although in these "frugal consumer" economic times no one is certain- - that the wage hike will increase U.S. GDP, serving as a small engine of growth as the U.S. economy inches back toward health.

It's an intriguing possibility isn't it? But has it worked out that way?

One way we can find out if boosting the federal minimum wage has boosted GDP is by examining the economic fortunes of the people most likely to be earning minimum wages in the United States: teenagers and young adults.

Political Calculations

Political Calculations is a site that develops, applies and presents both established and cutting edge theory to the topics of investing, business and economics.

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