Raising the federal minimum wage is always a controversial issue. On one hand, workers earn higher income. On the other hand, as labor becomes more expensive, companies may not be able to employ as many people. The potential for higher income levels and lower employment have important effects on the economy as a whole.

In this lesson students graph and solve systems of linear equations in order to examine the effects of wage levels on labor and consumer markets, and they discuss the possible pros and cons of increasing the minimum wage.

Students will

Given employment and job-seeker levels for two different wages, write and graph a system of linear equations representing labor supply and demand

Solve a system of linear equations in order to determine equilibrium wage and employment level

Discuss the impact of a minimum wage above equilibrium level on the labor market

Discuss the pros and cons of raising the federal minimum wage

Before you begin

Students should be able to write the equation of a line given two points. They should also be able to solve a system of two linear equations graphically, algebraically, or using technology.

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