Minimum Wage Adjusted for Inflation, Productivity?

Recent protests have renewed attention on the minimum wage debate in the United States. Fast food workers are demanding the minimum wage be increased to $15/hr (about double the current rate of $7.25 per hour).

There are plenty of arguments for and against increasing the minimum wage. While the cost of living has increased faster than the minimum wage, others argue that arbitrarily increasing the minimum wage will lead to fewer jobs and increased prices. Without opining on what is better economic policy, the Ramirez Group Daily Snippet for August 8, 2013 offers plain fact for the use of anyone interested in the topic.

Simply adjusting for inflation, the minimum wage would be $10.52 per hour in 2012.

That according to data offered by John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, via the Consumer Price Index and the Congressional Budget Office.

Mr. Schmitt also offers another possible benchmark for where the minimum wage should be currently. From the end of WWII until 1968, the minimum wage kept pace with the growth of average worker productivity (see figure 2). If that trend would have continued through 2012, the minimum wage would be $21.72 per hour. In other words, the average worker has continued producing more $$ for the people who “own the means of production” but have received less in return since 1968.


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