The Minimum Wage
A Reference Handbook
by Oren M. Levin-Waldman
December 2015, 354pp, 6x9
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3394-6
$64, £48, 54€, A92
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3395-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

As of 2014, the minimum wage in Seattle is $15 an hour—double the federal minimum wage.

This unbiased look at the minimum wage debate in America traces the history of minimum wage policy at both the federal and state levels, discusses the controversies swirling around the issue, and examines the veracity of claims made by people on both sides of the debate.

Minimum wage inspires debate among many Americans—from advocates who consider it beneficial to the poor and middle class to those who feel it leads to greater unemployment. This comprehensive overview examines the history, policies, and key players in the minimum wage arena and discusses the various controversies that have surrounded it. Author Oren M. Levin-Waldman presents a balanced approach to the topic, shedding light on legitimate evidence from both sides of the argument and debunking claims based on ideology, partisanship, and distortions of data.

The book presents an historical overview from the early 20th century through the present day, exploring the various legal issues, benefits, and potential problems of low-wage labor markets. Contributions from key economists along with profiles of seminal figures and organizations present a variety of different perspectives and show the expanse of political, economic, and academic involvement in marshaling effective solutions. The content features informative data, resources for further action, a helpful chronology, and a thorough glossary.


  • Presents data not typically found in many of the standard works
  • Reviews the impact of previous increases in the minimum wage at both the federal and state levels
  • Identifies the leading critics and proponents of minimum wage increases from the early 20th century to the present
  • Surveys the impact of compensation laws around the world
  • Pays attention to impact of minimum wage policy on the middle class as well as the poor and working class
  • Provides an impartial and unbiased look at the issue, acknowledging the validity of points and concerns raised by both sides
Oren M. Levin-Waldman, PhD, is professor of public policy in the school for public affairs at Metropolitan College of New York. He is author of Wage Policy, Income Distribution, and Democratic Theory; The Political Economy of the Living Wage: A Study of Four Cities; and the eBook The American Constitution. He is a regular guest discussing economic policy on the podcast Westchester on the Level. Levin-Waldman holds a doctorate in political science from Temple University.


"This reference title provides a very good overview of what even novice readers may need to know surrounding the controversial issue of minimum wages plus help in identifying other resources for further research. This title is easy to read and would be appropriate for students researching the minimum wage issue."—ARBA, September 8, 2016

"In all, a useful book for bringing both students and policy makers up to speed on this important matter. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduate through research and professional collections."—Choice, May 2, 2016

"This informative volume is a worthwhile addition to reference collections of high school, academic, and public libraries."—Booklist, February 8, 2016

Contemporary World Issues

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

24-hour cable news. Millions of internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about.


Subject coverage spans six main categories:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Environment
  • Gender and Ethnicity
  • Politics, Law, and Government
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • Society
Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that support statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
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