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 BroadwayEconomics.com

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

Superstore — Handheld Automation

 

Corporate has created new devices for customers to use that will allow them to look up where items are located in the store, scan the items, and pay for their total. The employees quickly point out that the device essentially replaces the workers and they are left wondering what that means for them. Dina tries to point out the relationship between ATMs and bank tellers, although she doesn’t have it exactly right.

At the end of the clip, Amy points out that corporate has also asked the stores to cut back employee hours, which implies that the new machines are replacing some of the labor in the store.

Young Sheldon — Organizing a Family Union

 

Sheldon isn’t happy with the bread for his sandwich and drags his friend, Tam, along to the grocery store to investigate. While there, Tam learns that the super market is just as convenient as his family’s convenience store and is no longer surprised that his family is losing business to the grocery store.

What Tam is surprised to learn is that the local employees earn $3.35 per hour, while Tam is paid $5 for the entire week. Realizing his dad is probably violating child labor laws, he wonders if he is able to form a union with his sisters and take his dad to court.

Adam Ruins Everything — Revealing Salaries

Adam Ruins Everything is a half-hour informational comedy were host, Adam Conover, debunks popular myths. Each episode is divided into 3 segments with some common theme. In the Spring of 2018, James Tierney and I sat down to go through all three seasons of Adam Ruins Everything to pick out examples in each episode that could be used in an economics course. If you’re curious about the paper, you can read about it here.

In this video, Adam goes through notion that sharing salaries is bad for workers, but focuses on how this practice creates information asymmetry in the workplace and gives managers the power to lower wages since workers aren’t well informed.

Young Sheldon — Haggling Skills

 

Meemaw is having a garage sale and have asked Missy and George to help out. When George questions the pricing decisions of the junk for sale, Meemaw explains that she starts prices high so that people can negotiate and feel like they saved some money, which is another way of arguing that she’s trying to let the customers experience some consumer surplus. When Missy & George try to negotiate for better pay, they realize that it may not work out.

 

Chris Rock — High School Orientation

Chris Rock describes taking his daughter to her high school orientation and hearing the vice principle talk about how students can be anything that they want to be. While optimistic, Rock points out that it’s more appropriate to tell them that they can be whatever they’re good at as long as someone is hiring. It turns out Chris Rock and stand up comedy has a lot of insights on economics.

Thanks to Kim Holder and ECONShots for clip idea!

 

Always Sunny — Mac and Charlie Get a Job

 

After Dee has a heart attack and finds out she doesn’t have health insurance, Mac and Charlie go on a quest to get a job that includes healthcare benefits. They decide to apply to a job together, but since they only care about the healthcare part of the job, they end up accepting a minimum wage job.

Brooklyn 99 — Name a Rich Juggler

Gina is back after maternity leave, but is missing her child. Terry decides to check in on Gina and ask how she’s handling her new role juggling a new child while still returning to work. Gina points out that juggling isn’t that hard or else you would see a lot of rich performers. Typically people who go through more training and have more human capital are paid better, but that may not be the case for jugglers.

Vox — Homer Simpson: An Economic Analysis

Homer has had about 100 jobs during his many years on television and Vox writers have analyzed his work life. If you plan on using a lot of Simpsons clips throughout your course, they may be a good introduction for students unfamiliar with the show.

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