South-Western College Publishing - Economics  
NYPD Blue -- in the Face, as LA Cops Poach Potential Recruits
Subject Comparative statics
Topic Labor Markets
Key Words Applicants, low pay, private sector, starting salaries, high school diploma
News Story

The number of applicants to the New York City Police Department has fallen from 31,000 in 1996 to fewer than half that in 1999. The prognosis for 2000 appears even bleaker. The customary causes include the low pay for rookies, especially compared with the booming private sector. Potential applicants are also deterred by the strained community relations that have resulted from shootings of unarmed men.

However, there is a new factor: police recruiters from Los Angeles are in New York City tempting residents with a warmer climate, beaches, higher starting salaries, and openings at the academy. In New York City starting salaries are $34,000, whereas in Los Angeles, they are $41,000. Another major difference is that New York City requires two years of military service or 60 college credits, while LA admits cadets with only a high-school diploma. The recruiters from LA also benefit from the fact that New York City residents are not as familiar with recent police controversies in LA.

The falling number of applicants may be problematic. But if places are limited, it may be academic.

(Updated July 1, 2000)

1. Draw a labor supply and demand diagram for the market for New York City police recruits. Mark the equilibrium wage and employment level.
  a) The booming private sector is partly blamed for the reduced number of applicants. Which determinant of supply or demand has been affected? Show the consequences for the curves and the equilibrium wage and employment level on your diagram.
  b) Likewise, poor community relations are said to have deterred applications. In this case, which determinant of supply or demand has changed? Again, illustrate the effect on the equilibrium wage and employment level of recruits.
  c) Now, residents are being attracted to Los Angeles. Which determinants of the supply of labor to the New York City police department are being affected? Show the implications for the equilibrium wage and employment level on your diagram.
2. a) If there are a fixed number of places at the academy and the City wants to fill them, what does the demand for labor curve look like? Draw it on a new labor supply and demand diagram.
  b) Show the effect of the developments in Question 1 on your diagram. What will have to happen to the wage paid to recruits if the academy is going to be successful in filling its places? Is the change in the wage greater or less than occurred in Question 1? Why?
3. The starting salary of police rookies in New York City is $34,000, but it is $41,000 in Los Angeles.
  a) How does this fit with
     i. The greater quality of life in LA?
     ii. The lower educational requirements in LA?
  b) How else would you explain the salary differential? Refer to the determinants of the demand for and the supply of labor.
Source C. J. Chivers, "Low Pay and Poaching Hurt New York Police Recruiting," The New York Times, April 6, 2000.

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