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

This lesson can be used as an introduction to solving systems of linear equations.

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Mathalicious lessons provide teachers with an opportunity to teach standards-based math through real-world topics that students care about.

How have video game console speeds changed over time? Students write an exponential function based on the Atari 2600 and Moore's Law, and see whether the model was correct for subsequent video game consoles.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Interpreting Categorical and Quantitative Data (ID), Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE)