The minimum wage was first enacted in 1938 as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Initially just 25 cents per hour, it has been raised several times in the decades since. The minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.56 today, when adjusted for inflation, which is dramatically lower than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. Between 1979 and 2012, the value of the minimum wage fell 21 percent,
For millions of Americans, earnings alone are not sufficient to make ends meet. Some work steadily at wages too low to lift their families out of poverty. In 2013, a full time minimum wage worker makes about $15,000 a year, yet, according to United States Census Bureau, a family of four needs to earn approximately $23,000 a year to live above the poverty line.
In 2013, the Fair Minimum Wage Act was introduced in Congress and would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in three increments. Furthermore, it would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70% of the full minimum wage. More than 30 million workers would receive a raise from the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would generate more than $32 billion in new economic activity, translating to 140,000 new full-time jobs as higher sales lead businesses to hire more employees, according to estimates by the Economic Policy Institute.
For more information on this issue, visit CHN’s Public Policy Priorities, 2013-2014.
Policy Analyses and Research
- March 5, 2014Center for American Progress: The Effects of Minimum Wages on SNAP Enrollments and Expenditures
- February 14, 2014Dube, Lester, Reich: Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Estimates Using Contiguous Counties