There has been a lot of debate lately about the federal minimum wage. Most people agree it should be raised, but how much? Yesterday marked the 5th anniversary of the federal minimum wage being raised at $7.25 per hour. Since then, the minimum wage hasn’t changed at all, while the cost of living has gone up quite a bit.
The Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index has gained almost 9 percent during those 5 years, not including volatile food and energy prices. In some cases, food and energy prices have jumped even more: Beef and gasoline, for example, are up around 40 perfcent since July 2009.
The average hourly earnings of a private-sector employees has risen about 10 percent, but that has mainly been just to keep up with inflation. According to the Labor Department, about 1.5 million Americans made the federal minimum wage in 2013. That’s definitely not enough to live on!
Check out this graph made by The Huffington Post to see the price increases of a sample of different goods and services, compared to the minimum wage’s flatline: