While there’s much to debate when it comes to the federal minimum wage in America, there’s one fact that is not up for debate: In nearly a decade, the current rate of $7.25 per hour hasn’t changed. And adjusted for inflation, that’s worth less than what the minimum wage delivered people in the 1960s.
Placing the current federal minimum wage in context drives home the issue with this stagnation. Right now, the median worker in the U.S. takes in around $905 per week. If someone earning the minimum wage works 40 hours a week, they’ll only bring home $290. That’s just around 32% of the median income. In the U.S. on the whole, the gulf between the minimum and median wage is wider than in any other industrialized country.
Around 40 cities and seven states in America have indeed enacted a $15 minimum wage, and what we can tell you based upon research in these areas is that higher minimum wages help workers and families stabilize financially. Especially in high-impact, low-wage communities, higher minimum wages help household and child poverty rates decline, which helps to create more equal communities.
There is so much that needs to be done to shrink wealth disparity in America, but from the research, we know that by raising the minimum wage, we can take major steps towards reducing wealth disparity and creating greater equality.