Evidence of The Unintended Labor Scheduling Implications of The Minimum Wage
33 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2021
Date Written: June 10, 2021
Problem definition: The effect of the minimum wage is an important yet controversial topic that has received attention for decades. Our study is the first to take an operational lens and empirically study the impact of the minimum wage on firms' scheduling practices.
Methodology/results: Using a highly granular dataset from a chain of fashion retail stores, we estimate that a $1 increase in the minimum wage, while having a negligible impact on the total labor hours used by the stores, leads to a 27.7% increase in the number of workers scheduled per week, but a 20.8% reduction in weekly hours per worker. For an average store in California, these changes translate into four extra workers and five fewer hours per worker per week. Such scheduling adjustment not only reduces the total wage compensation per worker but also reduces workers' eligibility for benefits. We also show that the minimum wage increase reduces the consistency of weekly and daily schedules for workers. For example, the absolute (relative) deviation in weekly hours worked by each worker increases by up to 33.0% (6.7%) and by up to 9.5% (2.0%) in daily hours, as the minimum wage increases by $1.
Managerial implications: Our study empirically identifies and highlights a new operational mechanism through which increasing the minimum wage may negatively impact worker welfare. Our further analysis suggests that the combination of the reduced hours, lower eligibility for benefits, and less consistent schedules (that resulted from the minimum wage increase) may substantially hurt worker welfare, even when the overall employment at the stores stay unchanged. By better understanding the intrinsic trade-off of firms' scheduling decisions, policy makers can better design minimum wage policies that will truly benefit workers.
Keywords: Minimum Wage, Labor Scheduling, Inadequate and Inconsistent Work Schedules
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