Federal minimum wage stagnant for 3,615 days, a ‘shameful’ period in history

"I've been criticized for this so let me say it again: the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr is a starvation wage. Every worker deserves a living wage of at least $15 an hour."


Not since July 24, 2009 has the minimum wage been raised. It is now the longest period of time that the minimum wage has stayed the same since it was enacted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Going on 3,615 days since the minimum wage increased from $6.55 an hour to the current hourly rate of $7.25, progressives call this milestone “shameful” as they continue to push for a higher federal minimum wage in the Fight for 15 movement.

“I’ve been criticized for this so let me say it again: the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr is a starvation wage,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), said. “Every worker deserves a living wage of at least $15 an hour.”

This stagnation has decreased the real value of the minimum wage. Analysis by David Cooper, deputy director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), revealed “that while the federal minimum wage has remained the same, its purchasing power has eroded significantly due to inflation,” Common Dreams reported.

“As the graphic shows, when the minimum wage was last raised to $7.25 in July 2009, it had a purchasing power equivalent to $8.70 in today’s dollars,” Cooper said in his report. “Over the last 10 years, as the minimum wage has remained at $7.25, its purchasing power has declined by 17 percent. For a full-time, year-round minimum wage worker, this represents a loss of over $3,000 in annual earnings.”

Cooper went on to report that the loss of 31 percent in purchasing power since February 1968 has caused full-time, year-round minimum wage workers today to “have annual earnings worth $6,800 less than what their counterparts earned five decades ago.”

While Congress has yet to increase the federal minimum wage, 18 states and the District of Columbia currently have annual minimum wage adjustment in place.

“Automatic annual adjustment would ensure that the paychecks of the country’s lowest-paid workers are never again left to erode,” Cooper said in his report.

Not only would the Raise the Wage Act of 2019 increase the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024, it would also adopt automatic annual adjustment, which will help protect low-wage workers from going through such a stagnation again.


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