Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is a critical social economic safeguard, setting a wage floor that should allow workers to meet their basic needs. The national minimum wage was first instituted in 1938 as a central feature of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Act also established overtime and child labor standards. It has been amended many times to increase the wage or expand coverage. Workers in some industries, such as agriculture, are exempt. The minimum wage is set by Congress, not by an independent agency as President Franklin Roosevelt originally proposed. It is not pegged to the cost of living and the real value of the federal minimum wage lags behind inflation. As a result, many states and cities have set their minimum wage rates higher than the federally mandated wage.

Commentary

Consider the Source: 100 years of Broken Record Opposition to the Minimum Wage

March 09, 2013

Chamber of Commerce, Wrong Again

May 19, 2011

Cry Wolf Quotes

The problem is raising the minimum wage actually hurts, not helps, low-income workers. Minimum wage laws make it illegal to have a job that pays below the government mandated limit. If that wage is more than a job provider will pay for a certain job, then no worker can get—or keep—that job.

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Martin, Catherine, Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
03/01/1999 | Full Details | Law(s): Minimum Wage

We say we're trying to help the working poor while we actually will be helping young part-time workers. There is one thing, however, upon which there is agreement. Economists from all persuasions agree that increasing the minimum wage will mean lost jobs and it will mean inflation.

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Harris Fawell (R-IL), Congressional Record.
05/16/1989 | Full Details | Law(s): Minimum Wage

This is an unemployment act that hurts minority youth, and that is a shame.

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John Shadagg (R-AZ).
01/01/1996 | Full Details | Law(s): Minimum Wage

The question of the minimum wage goes beyond the immediate problem. It strikes at a basic underpinning of our democratic system. It touches on the ability of individuals to enter freely into contract without coercion and without arbitrary restrictions for mutual profit. Have we so soon forgotten that the American Revolution was fought in part because of such restrictions? Have we forgotten that there is a correlation between a free market economy and the amount of personal freedom enjoyed by the inhabitants of a country? I certainly hope not. What we are accomplishing by setting a minimum wage is restricting the ability of persons to freely contract for their services and, in so doing, effectively limiting their opportunities to achieve economic well-being.

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Tom Hagedorn (R-MN), Congressional Record.
04/26/1977 | Full Details | Law(s): Minimum Wage

Related Laws and Rules

Evidence

Backgrounders & Briefs

Good Rules: Ten Stories Of Successful Regulation

Demos looks at ten laws and rules that we take for granted.

Minimum Wage Policy Brief

By Professor Stephanie Luce

The idea of minimum wage laws has been around for more than a century. They are still a good idea.

Resources

Raise the Minimum Wage is a project of the National Employment Law Project. The effort is devoted to preserving the wage floor by raising the federal minimum wage.

University of California-Berkeley Labor Center carries out research on labor and workplace-related issues.

The National Employment Law Project is an organization that promotes economically just public policy in the face of the prevailing trends of the law several decades.