The idea of a minimum wage and its effects in terms of supply and demand are well-known in mainstream economic theory.

I'm constructing an argument regarding the minimum wage, and what I'm curious about is whether there is actual empirical data that indicates that demand for minimum wage jobs is greater than their supply, and if so, by how much? I'm looking for data particular to the U.S., but if such data exists for other countries, that would be helpful too.


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Neumark and Wascher have a paper that surveys recent empirical work on the effects of the minimum wage in detail. It includes a number of tables that nicely summarise the results of a large number (102!) of studies.

They conclude the paper with the following remarks:

Nonetheless, the oft-stated assertion that the new minimum wage research fails to support the conclusion that the minimum wage reduces the employment of low-skilled workers is clearly incorrect. Indeed, in our view, the preponderance of the evidence points to disemployment effects. For example, the studies surveyed in this monograph correspond to 102 entries in our summary tables. Of these, nearly two thirds give a relatively consistent (although by no means always statistically significant) indication of negative employment effects of minimum wages, while only eight give a relatively consistent indication of positive employment effects. In addition, we have highlighted in the tables 33 studies (or entries) that we regard as providing the most credible evidence, and 28 (85 percent) of these point to negative employment effects. Moreover, when researchers focus on the least-skilled groups most likely to be adversely affected by minimum wages, the evidence for disemployment effects seems especially strong. In contrast, we see very few – if any – cases where a study provides convincing evidence of positive employment effects of minimum wages, especially among the studies that focus on broader groups for which the competitive model predicts disemployment effects.


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