Minimum Wage and Unemployment


Although the graph above talks about the U.S. economy, the underlying principle applies to all countries in the world: raising minimum wage may reduce employment. The reason is fairly simple: just like how we purchase clothing given a cerain amount of budget, the higher the price, the less quantity we purchase. Similarily, when labor becomes more expensive, to reach the profit goal, companies also have to reduce hiring people if productivity remains unchanged. 

Moreover, a higher minimum wage makes capital, another production input, relatively cheaper. This is why in many developed countries, more and more machines are being used in production in replace of labor. The choice of labor versus capital is based on their relative cost and abundance. 

With that, it is easier to understand why many developing countries show grave concerns about paying more to their workers. The competition is so fierce in the textile & apparel industry and companies can hardly afford an increase of production cost. The only difference with the case of the U.S. economy is: because developing coutries have no money to capitalize production and apparel manufacturing is labor intensive in nature, therefore, a rising minimum wage will simply result in a shift of production to other places where cheaper labors are available.