The Pajama Game — 7 1/2 Cents

Asking for a raise is tough, but even a modest raise in wages can have a huge impact on worker salaries. In this scene from The Pajama Game, we see how a 7.5 cent raise can impact a worker’s wage. The cast goes through the calculations of what they could earn with additional income, including an automatic washing machine, a year supply of gasoline, and a vacuum cleaner.

Assessment idea: This is a neat opportunity to calculate real wages and see what 7.5 cents would be worth today versus 1953. The BLS has a calculator so you don’t have to wait!

Looking for more: Do you want to see more economics in Broadway shows? Check out

Thanks to Mark Sammons from the University of Arizona for sending this clip in!

Construction Site in Thailand


A few years back there was a popular video of a human powered ferris wheel in India. I use that clip to talk about labor abundance in the Heckscher–Ohlin model of trade since India is so labor-abundant. Earlier we came across this fantastic video of a construction site in Thailand (another labor rich country). For small construction jobs, the workers will use manpower (literally) instead of machines to drive piles into the ground.  This clip could also be used in a labor economics setting if you’re talking about substitutes in production. Either way, this is a fun-video for class with a pretty nice beat from the tambourine-wielding foreman.

Rick & Morty — What’s the Point of Automation?



Rick’s quote in this episode is as followed, “The point of automation is to reduce cost and labor!” He says this because his robot’s dialogue disappointed him. This directly relates to economics, labor economics in particular, as when a firm’s supply of labor becomes too inelastic they will substitute capital for labor in order to reduce costs and increase profits. The firm, or Rick, is substituting capital for labor as we saw when examining firms’ reactions to labor markets.

Thanks to Justin Cooper for the clip and description!

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