“The Major Interdisciplinary Journal in the Field of Employment and Labor Relations”

-Daniel J.B. Mitchell

Current Cover

Current Issue

Special issue in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act
Co-edited by Michael Reich and Jesse Rothstein

current cover
October 2015

Volume 54, Issue 4
Pages 529–758

The Journal is available in the IRLE Library and in the Wiley Online Library (subscription required):

The Fair Labor Standards Act: A Living Document (pages 529–532)
Thomas E. Perez

The History of Economic Thought on the Minimum Wage (pages 533–537)
Alan B. Krueger

The Ups and Downs of Minimum Wage Policy: The Fair Labor Standards Act in Historical Perspective (pages 538–546)
Michael Reich

Explaining the Small Employment Effects of the Minimum Wage in the United States (pages 547–581))
John Schmitt

This paper reviews the most recent wave of research—roughly since 2000—on the employment effects of the U.S. minimum wage and concludes that the weight of evidence points to little or no employment response to modest increases. The paper then examines eleven possible adjustments to minimum-wage increases that may explain why the measured employment effects are consistently small. Given the relatively low cost to employers of modest increases in the minimum wage, these adjustment mechanisms appear to be sufficient to avoid employment losses, even for employers with a large share of low-wage workers.

Who Is Affected by the Minimum Wage? (pages 582–621)
Dale Belman, Paul Wolfson and Kritkorn Nawakitphaitoon

Prior surveys of empirical research on the minimum wage have been organized around the question "What does the minimum wage affect?" This survey is organized around the question "Who is affected by the minimum wage?" We review the consequences of the minimum wage for teens and young workers, men and women, African Americans and Hispanics, the less educated, workers in low-wage industries, and low-wage/low-income populations. Although there is almost universal agreement that the minimum wage boosts earnings, evidence for a negative employment effect varies between mixed and nonexistent. An important gap in the literature is the paucity of research on low-wage/low-income groups.

Tipped Wage Effects on Earnings and Employment in Full-Service Restaurants (pages 622–647)
Sylvia Allegretto and Carl Nadler

We exploit more than 20 years of changes in state-level tipped wage policy and estimate earnings and employment effects of the tipped wage using county-level panel data on full-service restaurants (FSR). We extend earlier work by Dube, Lester, and Reich (2010) and compare outcomes between contiguous counties that straddle a state border. We find a 10-percent increase in the tipped wage increases earnings in FSRs about 0.4 percent. Employment elasticities are sensitive to the inclusion of controls for unobserved spatial heterogeneity. In our preferred models, we find small, insignificant effects of the tipped wage on FSR employment.

Pay Secrecy and the Gender Wage Gap in the United States (pages 648–667)
Marlene Kim

Legislators and advocates claim that pay secrecy perpetuates the gender wage gap and that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) should be amended to outlaw these practices. Using a difference-in-differences fixed-effects human-capital wage regression, I find that women with higher education levels who live in states that have outlawed pay secrecy have higher earnings, and that the wage gap is consequently reduced. State bans on pay secrecy and federal legislation to amend the FLSA to allow workers to share information about their wages may improve the gender wage gap, especially among women with college or graduate degrees.

The Effects of Minimum Wages on Food Stamp Enrollment and Expenditures (pages 668–694)
Michael Reich and Rachel West

We provide the first causal analysis of how minimum wages affects enrollments and expenditures in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Exploiting state- and federal-level variation in minimum-wage policy between 1990 and 2012, and incorporating local controls in our specifications, we find that a 10 percent minimum wage increase reduces SNAP enrollment between 2.4 and 3.2 percent, and reduces program expenditures an estimated 1.9 percent. If the federal minimum wage were increased from $7.25 to $10.10, enrollment would fall between 7.5 and 8.7 percent (3.1 to 3.6 million persons) relative to 2012 levels, and annual expenditures would decrease 6 percent ($4.6 billion).

Underwork, Work-Hour Insecurity, and A New Approach to Wage and Hour Regulation (pages 695–716)
Charlotte Alexander and Anna Haley-Lock

When it was passed in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sought to address the "evils" of underpay and overwork by establishing an hourly minimum wage and requiring premium overtime pay. However, today's low-wage, hourly workers more often face underwork than overwork, as well as fluctuating, unstable schedules, neither of which is addressed by the FLSA. This paper presents and assesses the effectiveness of an alternative approach to wage and hour regulation, the "reporting pay" guarantee. We begin by examining the problem of work-hour insecurity, particularly employers' practice of sending workers home early from scheduled shifts. We then move to a detailed assessment of state laws that require reporting pay, as well as reporting pay guarantees in union contracts and private-employer practices that attempt to address the problem of work-hour insecurity. We conclude by considering paths for strengthening such protections in law.

FLSA Working Hours Reform: Worker Well-Being Effects in an Economic Framework (pages 717–749)
Lonnie Golden

This article discusses a model developed to predict the effects of recently proposed amendments to the FLSA workweek and overtime provisions. The model contrasts allowing compensatory time for overtime pay for private nonexempt employees to "rights to request" reduced hours. Hours demanded are likely to rise for workers who request comp time, undermining the intention of family-friendliness and alleviating overemployment, unless accompanied by offsetting policies that would prevent the denied use or forced use of comp time and that resurrect some monetary deterrent effect. A unique survey shows that the preference for time over money and comp time is relatively more prevalent among exempt, long hours and women workers; thus, worker welfare is likely better served if comp time were incorporated into an individualized, employee-initiated right to request.