- Hiking the minimum wage by a dollar could lead to a drop in suicide rates, according to a new study.
- Researchers from Emory University projected that an extra dollar on each worker's paychecks per hour could have prevented 13,800 suicides among 18- to 64-year-old adults after the Great Recession.
- Suicide rates have increased nationally since the early 2000s, particularly among white American adults.
- The $15 minimum wage was popular among Americans last summer in a Business Insider poll, but their support wavered after considering possible economic impacts.
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Raising the minimum wage by only one dollar could lead to a 3.5% to 5.9% drop in suicide rates among people with a high school education or less, a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community found.
The study said the effect is most pronounced during periods of high unemployment.
The Emory University researchers examined the monthly data of average suicide rates across all 50 states and Washington, DC from 1999 to 2017. They estimated that after the Great Recession, an additional dollar on worker's paychecks per hour could have prevented 13,800 suicides between 2009 and 2015 for 18- to 64-year-old adults with a high school education or less.
The study also noted that life expectancy for the richest 20% of Americans increased in the last three decades while it decreased for the poorest 20%. Researchers suggested that increasing worker pay could help cut the disparity, though it would depend on the economic environment each person is living in.
For example, stronger social benefits could offset the number of suicides that unemployment causes.
Suicide rates have increased nationally since the early 2000s, particularly among white, middle-aged American adults. 25 states experienced at least a 30% spike between 1999 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Most of the Democratic presidential candidates are calling to raise the federal minimum wage to $15, the Washington Post reported. It currently stands at $7.25 and it hasn't been increased since 2009.
States and local governments have instead raised worker's wages on their own in the last decade. 21 states raised the minimum wage as the clock struck midnight on New Year's.
The Democratic-controlled House last July passed a bill that would implement a $15 minimum wage by 2025, but it quickly stalled in the GOP-led Senate and is unlikely to become law.
While an overwhelming majority of Americans backed lifting the wage in a Business Insider poll last year, they wavered after considering some possible trade-offs.
The Congressional Budget Office said in an analysis while the minimum wage hike would lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, it would also result in 1.3 million jobs lost.