Federal Minimum Wage Lower Now Than 1963

As we observe the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom today, some quick numbers to chew on.

In front of 170 W 130 St., March on Washington...

In front of 170 W 130 St., March on Washington, l to r, Bayard Rustin, Deputy Director, and Cleveland Robinson, Chairman of Administrative Committee / World Telegram & Sun photo by O. Fernandez. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The federal minimum wage, on an inflation-adjusted basis was higher in 1963, than it is today. Richard Eskow wrote about this in the Huffington Post  yesterday; the equivalent  federal minimum wage was 13% higher in 1963 and 23% higher in 1968 than today.

There are more than a few states that have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal rate. Washington’s is $9.19/hour, the highest in the country and .82 higher than the 1963 inflation adjusted wage of $8.37/hour.

Be sure to check the map for the 4 states that have lower minimum wages than the federal. American Samoa has its own rules, and most of their wages  are lower than $6/hour. The wonkier of my readers might be interested in this  link to a large study published in 2013 that debunks the idea that an modest increase in the minimum wage has a material negative effect on small businesses).

While many of my readers are not earning minimum wage, these calculations inform us all. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “while we may have all come from different ships, we are all in the same boat now.”

Note: Federal minimum wage law supersedes state minimum wage laws where the federal minimum wage is greater than the state minimum wage. In those states where the state minimum wage is greater than the federal minimum wage, the state minimum wage prevails.”

Washington DC

Washington DC (Photo credit: Kathleen Tyler Conklin)


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