Minimum Wage

“We stand for a living wage. Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupations. The monetary equivalent of a living wage varies according to local conditions, but must include enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living–a standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit of reasonable saving for old age.” Theodore Roosevelt, Confession of Faith, 8/6/1912

Minimum Wage Tracker, EPI “The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.” That increase was mandated by a law passed in 2007. …many states and localities have raised their own minimum wages.” Explore the map to see these. Values as of July 1, 2022

A history of the federal minimum wage 85 years later, the minimum wage is far from equitable, Payne-Patterson & Maye, EPI 8/23

“From 1938 to its peak purchasing power in 1968, the minimum wage rose not just in step with prices, but also with productivity growth. This meant that minimum wage workers got their share of a growing economy.  After 1968, the minimum wage failed to even keep pace with prices, with workers falling behind inflation. If the minimum wage had continued to keep pace with rising productivity, it would be over $25 an hour today.” Dean Baker, Quick Thoughts on the UAW Strike, Counterpunch 9/18/23

Twenty-two states will increase their minimum wages on January 1, raising pay for nearly 10 million workers, Martinez, EPI 12/23

Record number of minimum wage increases set for 2022, Gonzalez, Axios 12/21

Quantifying the Impact of the Fight for $15: $150 Billion in Raises for 26 Million Workers…, Lathrop, Lester, & Wilson, NELP 7/21

After the longest period in history without an increase, the federal minimum wage today is worth 21% less than 12 years ago—and 34% less than in 1968.

The Case for a Higher Minimum Wage, A

CBO Not Competent to Assess Economics of Minimum Wage , Galbraith, INET 2/21

The impact of raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, by congressional district: Mapping the impact of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 on workers, EPI 1/21

Raises from Coast to Coast in 2021, Lathrop, NELP 12/20

Minimum Wage Will Increase in Record-High 47 States, Cities, and Counties This January, Lathrop, NELP 12/19

Source EPI 9/20


Basic Family Budget Calculator EPI     US Minimum Wage Compared to other OECD

Living Wage Calculator, MIT

What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace With Productivity [$24], Baker 1/20 Counterpunch

Job loss predictions over rising minimum wages haven’t come true, Kight & Rabouin, Axios 11/19

Want to decrease suicide? Raise the minimum wage, researchers suggest, Cerullo, CBS News, 4/19

NBER study: “We find that the overall number of low-wage jobs remained essentially unchanged over the five years following the [minimum wage] increase.” Cengiz et al, 4/19

Statement of Vanita Gupta to the House Committee on Education & Labor: Hearing on “Gradually Raising the Minimum Wage to $15” Leadership Conf. on Civil & Human Rights, 2/19

Economists reverse claims that $15 Seattle minimum wage hurt workers, admit it was largely beneficial, Doctorow, BoingBoing 10/18

Effects Of Minimum Wages On Population Health, Leigh & Du, Health Affairs, 10/18 New research indicates that an increase in minimum wages can have important health benefits—a finding that is relevant to public debates about both health and economic policy.

The latest research on the efficacy of raising the minimum wage above $10 in six U.S. cities, McGrew, Wash. Ctr/Equitable Growth 9/17

Report: Increased Minimum Wage’s Positive Effects “Persist and Indeed Grow in Magnitude over Several Years” Constant, Civic Skunk Works 4/18

As cities and states pass bold increases in the minimum wage, we need to update our thinking about its costs, Mishel,EPI 5/18

“We find that the average minimum wage increase of 8% reduces the probability that men and women return to prison within 1 year by 2%. This implies that on average the wage effect, drawing at least some ex-offenders into the legal labor market, dominates any reduced employment in this population due to the minimum wage.” “The Minimum Wage, EITC, and Criminal Recidivism,” Agan & Makowsky, SSRN 1/18

New UW Report Finds Seattle’s Minimum Wage Is Great for Workers and Businesses, 1/18

Raises from Coast to Coast in 2018: Workers in 18 States and 19 Cities and Counties Seeing Minimum Wage Increases on January 1, Lathrop, NELP 12/17

“If the minimum wage had continued to track productivity growth in the years since 1968, it would be almost $20 an hour today…. near the current median wage for men and close to the 60th percentile wage for women. This is a striking statement on how unevenly the gains from growth have been shared over the last half century. …There are now 29 states that have a minimum wage higher than the national minimum.” Hints of Progress for Labor in the United States, Baker 6/17

In 2016, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 was … 25 percent below its peak value in 1968. ….raising the minimum to $15 in 2024 would directly or indirectly lift wages for 41.5 million workers, 29.2 percent of the wage-earning workforce. EPI 4/17

The misplaced debate about job loss and a $15 minimum wage, Howell 7/16 

Minimum wage victories [in 4 states] will raise wages for more than 2 million workers, Cooper, 11/16

Reframing the Minimum-Wage Debate Why “no job loss” is the wrong standard for setting the right wage floor, Howell, TAP 9/16 See also What’s the right minimum wage? Reframing the debate from ‘no job loss’ to a ‘minimum living wage’

Saving lives with the minimum wage, Salon, 8/16

Raise Wages, Kill Jobs? Seven Decades of Historical Data Find No Correlation Between Minimum Wage Increases and Employment Levels, Sonn & Lathrop, NELP 5/16

What’s the Right Minimum Wage? Our goal should be a living wage, not zero job loss. Howell, TAP, 4/16



Business for a Fair Minimum Wage

Low-wage Workers: Still Older, Smarter, and Underpaid CEPR, 5/15

Award-Winning Study: Minimum Wage–Solid Benefits, Small Costs CBPP 6/15

Minimum Wage in U.S. Cities Not Enough to Afford Rent, Report Says 5/15

Higher minimum wages are associated with greater financial well-being, Krassa & Radcliffe. LSE 11/14

$15 Is the New $10.10, USNWR, 6/14

“The minimum wage of the past was a stronger standard, providing significantly more buying power than it does today. After its creation in 1938, the value of the minimum wage rose relatively steadily until its value reached a high point in 1968 (when its nominal value was $1.60 an hour). Thereafter, it suffered dramatic erosion as Congress failed to adequately correct for inflation over time.” [for source, see graph below.]

2014 Job Creation Faster in States that Raised the Minimum Wage, CEPR 6/14

Low-wage Workers Are Older Than You Think, Cooper & Essrow, EPI 8/13



Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment? Schmitt, CEPR 2/13

Minimum wage laws in the states DOL 1/13

Increase and Index the Minimum Wage, Hall, EPI 2/12

“The [Fair Labor Standards 1938] act–which also established time-and-a-half pay for overtime and restricted child labor–first set the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents. …. No one ever wants to make just the minimum, but the best time to have done so was 40 years ago. That’s when the minimum wage was the equivalent of $10.11 in 2008 dollars.” “Keeping an Eye on the Low Point of the Pay Scale,” NY Times, 8/31/08, Korkki

“An estimated 2.8 million employees will get a raise on Friday [7/24/09] as the federal minimum wage rises from $6.55 an hour to $7.25. Another 1.6 million whose hourly pay hovers around $7.25 are also expected to get a boost as employers adjust their pay scales to the new minimum. The raise is badly needed. It is also wholly inadequate.
With the latest increase, the minimum wage is still no higher now, after inflation, than it was in the early 1980s, and it is 17 percent lower than its peak in 1968. That means that no matter how hard they work, many low-wage workers keep falling behind. The latest increase will slow the decline in living standards, but it doesn’t reverse the overall downward pull.

Even that understates the broader dimensions of the problem.The minimum wage also sets a floor by which other wages are set. Keeping it low keeps wages lower than they would be otherwise, especially for jobs that are just above the minimum-wage level. That’s a big problem for American workers because low-wage fields are the ones that are adding the most jobs.

According to the Labor Department, 5 of the 10 occupations expected to add the most jobs through 2016 are ‘very low paying,’ — up to a maximum of about $22,000 a year. They include retail sales jobs and home health aides. Another 3 of the 10 are ‘low paying’, — from roughly $22,000 to $31,000, including customer-service representatives, general office clerks and nurses’ aides.” NY Times Editorial, July 24, 2009

Consider the Source: 100 Years of Broke- Record Opposition to the Minimum Wage NELP, 3/13

Strengthening the EITC and raising the minimum wage should go hand-in-hand, Cooper 1/13

Minimum Wage Indexing protects nearly a million low-wage workers this New Year Cooper 12/12

Time to Raise the Minimum Wage, EPI 7/12

Hardworking Americans should not be living in poverty, CNN 7/12

Economic research supports raising the minimum wage, Eisenbrey 7/12

Confronting Low Pay: Minimum Wage Policy and Employment in the U.S. and France, Beja, Rao,  & Koechlin, PERI 9/12

Minimum Wage and Productivity, Schmitt 3/12

Affording Health Care and Education on the Minimum Wage, Schmitt & Augier, 3/12

Raise the Minimum Wage NELP website

Most minimum wage workers are not teenagers, Cooper, EPI, 1/12

Minimum Wage: EPI Issue Guide, 7/09

Minimum wage stuck in the 1950s, Sklar, 7/09

Minimum wage workers: better educated, worse compensated, 7/09

Increases in minimum wage boost consumer spending, Filion, EPI, 5/09

First Federal Wage Hike in 10 Years, Brennen Ctr

Hundreds of Economists Say: Raise the Minimum Wage

“There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every [American] whether he [she] be a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid or day laborer.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967 quoted by Sklar and Sherry, A Just Minimum Wage: Good For Workers, Business and Our Future

Job Slayers or Fact Slayers? The Wall Street Journal’s flawed argument against raising the minimum wage

Labor Markets, Wages and Poverty — Political Economy Research Institute UMASS

See also Resources: Living and minimum wage sites