Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Minimum Wage Should be Much Higher

A federal minimum wage law guaranteeing workers 25 cents an hour was established on this day in 1938. Passed as the Fair Labor Standards Act, it also capped regular weekly working hours to 40, banned child labor, and instituted time-and-a-half pay for overtime.

President Franklin Roosevelt had been campaigning for reelection when a young girl trying to pass him a note was held back by police. When he had someone retrieve the letter, it read, “I wish you could do something to help us girls.” She described her pay in a sewing factory as just $4 per week. Roosevelt decided then that he needed to act on child labor and minimum wage laws.

The first minimum wage law had been enacted in New Zealand in 1894. Several other countries adopted the practice before the United States. Since its inception in 1938, the federal U.S. wage has been adjusted 22 times by 12 different presidents — most recently by President Obama, who raised it to $7.25/hour in 2009. Minimum wage does not increase automatically with inflation over time, but rather must be adjusted intentionally by a sitting president and the administration.

Most states have their own minimum wage laws, with the exception of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina. Several states have wage rates lower than the federal rates. The highest minimum wage is $9.32 in Washington State.

- Writer's Almanac

The minimum wage in the United States is a network of federal, state, and local laws. Employers generally must pay workers the highest minimum wage prescribed by federal, state, or local law. As of July 2016, the federal government mandates a nationwide minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Minimum wage in the United States - Wikipedia