Acton Institute Powerblog

Do unions raise wages?

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Note: This is post #59 in a weekly video series on basic microeconomics.

Do unions raise wages for workers as a whole? If not, can unions raise the wages of some workers? The answer, says economist Alex Tabarrok, is . . . it depends. Unions have the ability to restrict the supply of labor to a job, which can increase wages for some workers. However, unions can also lower wages. For example, work stoppages and strikes supported by unions can slow down economic growth, lowering real wages. In this video by Marginal Revolution University, Tabarrok looks at what happened to Great Britain’s economy during the 1970’s union strikes.

(If you find the pace of the videos too slow, I’d recommend watching them at 1.5 to 2 times the speed. You can adjust the speed at which the video plays by clicking on “Settings” (the gear symbol) and changing “Speed” from normal to 1.25, 1.5 or 2.)

Previous in series: Why increasing job safety lowers workers wages

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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