If the minimum wage had grown at the same rate as the earnings of the top one percent of Americans the federal wage floor would be more than triple the current hourly minimum of $7.25. Instead, the minimum wage has been lower than a poverty wage ever since 1982.
The New York Times compiled those and other basic facts about the minimum wage into an infographic. Together with demographic data about who actually holds minimum-wage jobs — less than a quarter of the minimum-wage workforce are teenagers, and nearly four in ten are over the age of 30 — the graphic makes the fundamental case for fighting inequality and economic hardship by raising the minimum wage. The horizontal red line in the Times graphic indicates the hourly wage necessary for a single parent working full-time with one child to avoid poverty:
One puzzle piece missing in the graphic is race. Since racial minorities are over-represented among the minimum wage workforce, raising the minimum wage to just $10.10 would lift 3.5 million people of color out of poverty.
The stagnation and collapse of minimum wage purchasing power has helped drive the divergence between the wealthiest and poorest segments of the U.S. workforce. As minimum-wage jobs have provided less and less stable economic footing for working people, the wealthiest sliver of the country has seen astronomical gains in their compensation. If instead the federal minimum wage had grown at the same rate as one-percenter earnings, it would sit at $22.62 per hour today — 212 percent higher than the current wage floor.
Categories: Economics/Class Relations