The U.S. minimum wage was first implemented in 1938. Itwas $.25 an hour. It peaked (in terms of its buying power) in 1968, when it was $1.60. Since then, despite occasional increases passed by Congress and signed by the President, it has lost a considerable amount of its value. It was last raised a decade ago (2009). Today’s national minimumwage, if the 1968 rate had kept up with inflation, would benearly $12 per hour.1
The minimum wage over time has also not kept up withworker productivity. For the first 25+ years following theSecond World War, worker compensation and productivity increased in tandem. Then, beginning in 1973, paystagnated while productivity continued to rise significantly.From 1973 to 2017, productivity grew 6.2 times more than pay.2 In other words, what workers get paid has not kept up with the value of what they have produced.