Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

14.2: Monopsony and the Minimum Wage

  • Page ID
    14111
  • Learning Objectives

    1. Compare the impact of a minimum wage on employment in the case where the labor market is perfectly competitive to the case of a monopsony labor market.
    2. Discuss the debate among economists concerning the impact of raising the minimum wage.

    We have seen that wages will be lower in monopsony than in otherwise similar competitive labor markets. In a competitive market, workers receive wages equal to their MRPs. Workers employed by monopsony firms receive wages that are less than their MRPs. This fact suggests sharply different conclusions for the analysis of minimum wages in competitive versus monopsony conditions.

    In a competitive market, the imposition of a minimum wage above the equilibrium wage necessarily reduces employment, as we learned in the chapter on perfectly competitive labor markets. In a monopsony market, however, a minimum wage above the equilibrium wage could increase employment at the same time as it boosts wages!

    Figure 14.9 “Minimum Wage and Monopsony” shows a monopsony employer that faces a supply curve, S, from which we derive the marginal factor cost curve, MFC. The firm maximizes profit by employing Lm units of labor and paying a wage of $4 per hour. The wage is below the firm’s MRP.

    Figure 14.9 Minimum Wage and Monopsony

    c4d9e03b420fdb2ad60952ffd1665039.jpg

    A monopsony employer faces a supply curve S, a marginal factor cost curve MFC, and a marginal revenue product curve MRP. It maximizes profit by employing Lm units of labor and paying a wage of $4 per hour. The imposition of a minimum wage of $5 per hour makes the dashed sections of the supply and MFC curves irrelevant. The marginal factor cost curve is thus a horizontal line at $5 up to L1 units of labor. MRP and MFC now intersect at L2 so that employment increases.