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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Predict shifts in the demand and supply curves of the labor market
  • Explain the impact of new technology on the demand and supply curves of the labor market
  • Explain price floors in the labor market such as minimum wage or a living wage

Markets for labor have demand and supply curves, just like markets for goods. The law of demand applies in labor markets this way: A higher salary or wage —that is, a higher price in the labor market—leads to a decrease in the quantity of labor demanded by employers, while a lower salary or wage leads to an increase in the quantity of labor demanded. The law of supply functions in labor markets, too: A higher price for labor leads to a higher quantity of labor supplied; a lower price leads to a lower quantity supplied.

Equilibrium in the labor market

In 2013, about 34,000 registered nurses worked in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin metropolitan area, according to the BLS. They worked for a variety of employers: hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, health clinics, and nursing homes. [link] illustrates how demand and supply determine equilibrium in this labor market. The demand and supply schedules in [link] list the quantity supplied and quantity demanded of nurses at different salaries.

Labor market example: demand and supply for nurses in minneapolis-st. paul-bloomington

This graph shows how equilibrium is affected by demand and supply. The downward- sloping demand curve and the upward-sloping supply curve intersect at equilibrium salary.
The demand curve (D) of those employers who want to hire nurses intersects with the supply curve (S) of those who are qualified and willing to work as nurses at the equilibrium point (E). The equilibrium salary is $70,000 and the equilibrium quantity is 34,000 nurses. At an above-equilibrium salary of $75,000, quantity supplied increases to 38,000, but the quantity of nurses demanded at the higher pay declines to 33,000. At this above-equilibrium salary, an excess supply or surplus of nurses would exist. At a below-equilibrium salary of $60,000, quantity supplied declines to 27,000, while the quantity demanded at the lower wage increases to 40,000 nurses. At this below-equilibrium salary, excess demand or a surplus exists.
Demand and supply of nurses in minneapolis-st. paul-bloomington
Annual Salary Quantity Demanded Quantity Supplied
$55,000 45,000 20,000
$60,000 40,000 27,000
$65,000 37,000 31,000
$70,000 34,000 34,000
$75,000 33,000 38,000
$80,000 32,000 41,000

The horizontal axis shows the quantity of nurses hired. In this example, labor is measured by number of workers, but another common way to measure the quantity of labor is by the number of hours worked. The vertical axis shows the price for nurses’ labor—that is, how much they are paid. In the real world, this “price” would be total labor compensation: salary plus benefits. It is not obvious, but benefits are a significant part (as high as 30 percent) of labor compensation. In this example, the price of labor is measured by salary on an annual basis, although in other cases the price of labor could be measured by monthly or weekly pay, or even the wage paid per hour. As the salary for nurses rises, the quantity demanded will fall. Some hospitals and nursing homes may cut back on the number of nurses they hire, or they may lay off some of their existing nurses, rather than pay them higher salaries. Employers who face higher nurses’ salaries may also try to replace some nursing functions by investing in physical equipment, like computer monitoring and diagnostic systems to monitor patients, or by using lower-paid health care aides to reduce the number of nurses they need.

Questions & Answers

please 7 implications of Lionel Robbins definition of economics
Amaka Reply
Problem of economics to the society
Gmzaeeyan Reply
Within 1 or 2 percentage points, what has the U.S. inflation rate been during the last 20 years? Draw a graph to show the data.
Daphne Reply
law of demand is explaining why the demand curve is downward sloping
Tan Reply
the graph would be x axis is quantity and y axis is price, as the price is expensive, there would be less demand therefore less quantity anf vice versa, thats why demand curve is downward sloping
Tan
and*
Tan
problems of economic to the society
onalaja Reply
Income Price Taste of the commodity
Ubani Reply
what are the basic economic concept
charls Reply
state any two factors which might influence the spending patterns of consumers
Nelao Reply
in a graphical way suppose the total demand for rice and total supply of rice per month
precious Reply
it helps government, individual to allocate their scare resources
Amure Reply
if the demand for one commodity excludes another, it is sad to be
Amure
what is this Means of economics
Abubakar Reply
explain the law of diminishing marginal utility
Deborah Reply
law of the state that(all things been equal the higher the price the lower the quantity demanded, the lower the price the higher the quantity demanded. kayode
waheed Reply
I mean law of demad
waheed
How do you compute GDP at factor cost?
Seyi Reply
ad-as approach
Dhananjay Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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