January 14, 2014

Minimum Wage History Adjusted for Inflation

Recently I read that if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since the 60's that it would be over $10 today.   I think it was on The Big Picture that I saw this but I can't remember for sure.    Anyway theres been talk about raising the minimum wage lately so I thought it would be interesting to check this out and see how the minimum wage rate has looked over time if adjusted for todays dollars.

I got the data from History of minimum wage from DoL and Historical CPU data at the BLS.  I used the annual average CPI where available and then just the October 2013 figure for 2013 since they didn't have a 2013 annual average.

Here's the result :

The peak figure was $10.74 in real dollars for 1968.   Minimum was just $1.60 in 1968 but in todays dollars thats $10.74.   The low was $3.98 in real 2013 dollars from 1944 when the minimum was just 30¢.

I think it would also be pretty meaningful to find out what % of the working population made minimum wage or less but I don't know if I could find that data historically.


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