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The Economic Impact of a High National Minimum Wage: Evidence from the 1966 Fair Labor Standards Act

Martha J. Bailey, John DiNardo and Bryan Stuart

Journal of Labor Economics, 2021, vol. 39, issue S2, S329 - S367

Abstract: 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 twentieth century and extended coverage to an additional 9.1 million workers. Exploiting differences in the “bite” of the minimum wage owing 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, some evidence shows that disemployment effects were significantly larger among African American men, 40% of whom earned below the new minimum wage.

Date: 2021
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