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Association Between Fatal Occupational Injuries and State Minimum-Wage Laws, 2003–2017

      Introduction

      Low wages are associated with an increased risk of occupational injuries. Increasing the minimum wage is one way to increase workers’ wages; however, a previous study found that higher state minimum wage was associated with an increase in nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses. This study aims to examine the association between state minimum-wage laws and fatal occupational injuries.

      Methods

      Fatal occupational injury data (2003–2017) for the 50 U.S. states were obtained from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. State minimum-wage law information was obtained from Temple's LawAtlas website. Linear and Poisson regression models were used to analyze the association between state minimum-wage laws and the rates of fatal occupational injury per 100,000 workers. All data were analyzed in 2020.

      Results

      Having a state minimum wage higher than the federal minimum had no statistically significant association with fatal occupational injury rate, (−4.0%, 95% CI= −9.1, 1.5). State minimum wage amount was also not associated with fatal occupational injuries (−4.0%, 95% CI= −9.1, 1.5).

      Conclusions

      Although previous research suggested that state minimum-wage laws were associated with increased rates of nonfatal occupational injuries, these findings indicate that these laws are not associated with an increased risk of fatal occupational injuries. Concerns that raising the minimum wage will lead to worse workplace safety may be unfounded.
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