Doing the minimum

How minimum wage is falling behind


Halle Opat

Statistics show the minimum wage has been to low to live off of for years.

Halle Opat, Staff Reporter

The minimum wage was established in 1938 by the United States Congress. At the time it was created the minimum wage required employers to pay a minimum of  $0.25 per hour. Since then it has been raised nine times according to on average it was raised $0.77 over the span of 84 years. The minimum wage was intended to protect the labor force, especially following the effects of the great depression. It would enforce employers to pay enough for their employees to be able to live off of.

While individual states can have their own minimum wage, requirements almost half the states still go by the $7.25 minimum wage required by the federal government. Of the 30 states with their own minimum wage the highest currently is $15.24 in California. Of the 20 states following the federal minimum wage, two states have their minimum wage set lower than the federal requirement. Out of those 20, 5 of the states have set no minimum wage causing them to fall under the federal minimum requirements.

Since 1938 the dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.9%. To account for inflation, the minimum wage should have been increasing by 3.9% according to  This statistic means that the cost of living has increased 21 times higher than in 1938. The minimum wage has only increased by $7 since then. The minimum wage has been the same since 2009 making the last 13 years the longest the government has gone without raising it since it was created. 

Since it was last raised the dollar has lost 28% of its value with no increase in the minimum wage from the government. The cost of living goes up every year as well as the unemployment rate. Since the last increase, the unemployment rate has increased by 10.6%  according to  

The minimum wage should be increasing as inflation increases so it continues to provide its original intention which was to provide a livable wage to employees. With more open jobs than ever, the minimum wage increase would also benefit employers by making their openings more likely to be filled by paying higher wages.