The Economic Impact of a High National Minimum Wage: Evidence from the 1966 Fair Labor Standards Act
48 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2020 Last revised: 27 Jan 2022
Date Written: April 2020
This paper examines the short and longer-term economic effects of the 1966 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which increased the national minimum wage to its highest level of the 20th Century and extended coverage to an additional 9.1 million workers. Exploiting differences in the “bite” of the minimum wage due to regional variation in the standard of living and industry composition, this paper finds that the 1966 FLSA increased wages dramatically but reduced aggregate employment only modestly. However, the disemployment effects were significantly larger among African-American men, forty percent of whom earned below the new minimum wage in 1966.
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