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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.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices

Shoutouts

PBS NewsHour