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Do minimum wages cause unemployment?

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We’re adding a new category today, Cafe Conversation.  The idea is to present a puzzle, let you, the readers comment on the puzzle, and then later in the week, I’ll post the most interesting response or responses and add some comments of my own.

A reader wrote Don and me wondering whether the minimum wage causes unemployment:

I decided to look up some statistics on my own. Here are two sites I found:

http://www.dol.gov/esa/minwage/america.htm
http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/state_unemployment/

Comparing these, I was disappointed to find that many of the states without minimum wage laws have fairly high unemployment, and the state with the lowest unemployment rate, Hawaii, has a minimum wage higher than the federal rate. Obviously I’m not foolish enough to think that the sole factor contributing to unemployment is wage rates, and obviously this doesn’t even approach a scientific study, but it was a pattern I didn’t expect to find. Any thoughts on the issue?

Have at it, folks.

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