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Raise the minimum wage rally with a man holding sign saying
Raise the minimum wage rally.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research has put together two calculator clocks showing how inflation has demolished the buying power of the federal minimum wage. While several cities and states have moved to boost the local minimum wage, sometimes significantly, the federal minimum is now $7.25 an hour. That was arrived at in July 2009, the last in a three-step phase-up passed by Congress in 2007 to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour, where it had been stuck for 10 years.

The clock below shows how much minimum-wage workers have lost in the intervening five years as inflation has nibbled away at their earnings.

The clock below shows how much how much America's minimum-wage workers have lost and continue to lose since July 24, 2009, because the minimum wage was not raised to the peak (inflation-adjusted) 1968 level and indexed to inflation going forward.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  These days... (11+ / 0-) takes a lot more money just to be poor.

    I went into science for the money and the sex. Imagine my surprise.

    by Mote Dai on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:37:11 AM PDT

  •  Meteor-Are there not wealthy Dems who could (0+ / 0-)

    fight the Koch money? I am hearing a deafening silence on this subject, so it must be understood by all DK members except me. Just trying to learn here.

    The US ranks 138th out of all 169 voting countries in actual voting. Since 1974, mid-term % of eligible voters who vote avgs. 37%. Democrats would dominate if they did one thing- GOTV. They never do. Curious.

    by Incredulousinusa on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:38:24 AM PDT

  •  Bad use of numbers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wendys Wink, Roadbed Guy

    The relevant question is how much each individual has been impacted.    And the answer to that makes it clear that we should raise the minimum wage to 10.10.  

    (Though, to be clear, we are probably going to have to institute a minimum income as well.)

    •  Except that $10.10 doesn't even raise minimum... (5+ / 0-)

      ...wage to same buying power it had in 1968. That $1.60 then would by $10.96 now.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:48:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is where there seems to be the most support (0+ / 0-)

        and breaches the $10 psychological barrier.  

        (Also, if you look at a graph of minimum wage buying power, 1968 is the highest year in history and is an outlier.  It is hard to make a convincing argument that you should replicate that; $10.10 seems higher than almost every year other than that one.)

        •  I suggest a different question … (0+ / 0-)

          Which is: What do we want the minimum wage to accomplish?

          And I suggest two answers:

          (1) We want to insure that anyone who works full-time can keep herself and a couple of kids out of poverty.

          (2) We want to promote full employment.

          To accomplish #2, let's have overtime kick in at 32 hours a week instead of 40. This will encourage employers to hire unemployed people, instead of working their current employees more hours.

          Now, the math:

          The 2014 federal poverty level for a 3-person household is $19,790. Let's multiply that by 110% to leave a small cushion over the poverty level, which gets us to $21,769.

          $21,769 ÷ 50 weeks a year (to leave some time for personal & family illness, school conferences, etc) ÷ 32 hours a week = $13.61 an hour, the HeyMikey minimum wage.

          And index it to the greater of (a) inflation or (b) adjustments to the federal poverty level.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals."—Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 05:46:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, that's rather wonky . .. . (0+ / 0-)

      a better depiction might be something like, if minimum wage had been maintained since year X, the average person could afford to buy a Honda Accord instead of a Kia, or something like that (maybe go to Starbucks instead of Dunkin Donuts?).

      In any event, something actually meaningful on an individual basis . ..

      And the 10.10 thing is a tad irksome to me as well, I suspect that if it is repeated too often, we might get it, but then be stuck with it for the next 30 years at which point it is worth next to nothing.  If reforms are afoot, a key one IMHO is to link the minimum wage to inflation in such a way as the appropriate increases automatically kick in at regular intervals.

    •  As wealthy as this country is, as much as the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      super-rich cheat and steal and off-shore, minimum wage should probably be what I am making now (A bit under $50,000)

      I should be making about $240,000. (Hell, I can't even think big...)

      And the rich would still be obscenely rich.

      Ergo, we must surmise we are being oppressed and robbed.

  •  How much is our labor worth? (4+ / 0-)

    The value of labor should not be measured in dollars. It should be measured by how much each hour of our labor contributes to our standard of living. In my experience, and I assume millions of others, the standard of living my 40 hour a week minimum wage job provided in 1977 was far greater than the ones my kids experience today. My minimum wage job paid for rent, utilities, food, college and an occasional night out. It was a spartan existence, the Goodwill was my department store, but I was on my own. That cannot happen today, and it has not been able to happen for several decades.

    Comparisons of minimum wage rates using CPI rates and fictional constant dollars are a waste of time. The true, real cost of living has outstripped the minimum wage by an order of magnitude. Forty hours of labor used to be able to provide independence and the means for educational improvement. Today it can do neither.

    •  The focus SHOULD be on INFLATION (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      not wages not keeping up with inflation.....

      INFLATION has a wide reaching insidious effect - penalizing workers and savers - punishing behavior you should be encouraging.

      It used to be that banks hatee inflation.  The loans they made were paid back in devalued money.  The whole 'free silver' movement and 'the cross of gold' was about farmers and small business WANTING inflation - while banks fought it.  But this was back before the Fed and government changing the way our monetary system works.

      Now government WANTS inflation - because government is the largest debtor there is.

      'Money' is created out of thin air - and interest is paid on the money that is created.  

      In the past 'money' was 'limited' in supply and  not readily expanded, the stored value of expended labor.   Money was something that was pursued by banks willing to pay higher interest to savers.

      But now 'money' is created out of thin air and 'lent' to banks at zero cost - robbing savers and workers by devaluing the money that represents the stored value of their labor.

      Since the late 70's government has increasingly lied about inflation -  a far easier approach than admitting the truth.  

      For the first two hundred years of US history when the $US was defined by gold and solver inflation was limited to periods of war.  You had periodic financial crises - often manipulated by large banks and used to buy up assets on the cheap - but the amount of damage done by inflation was limited.   Government had to find ways to raise revenue when it increased spending - it was forced to live close ti - if not entirely within - its means.

      The creation of the Federal Reserve - and implementation of income taxes (both something our Founding Fathers would have violently oppose) led to government by debt - ever increasing debt.

      Purchasing power of the $US has dropped drastically in the last 100 years - especially since Nixon's abrogation of Bretton Woods - severing the last real limit on the total supply of $US on circulation.  The US has literally gotten away with looting the rest of the world via the petrodollar for the last 40 years.  The use of the $US as the world's reserve currency has actually kept prices in the UYS LOWER than they would have been otherwise.  In effect the US has lived on ever expanding debt for the last 40 years - paying low interest to the rest of the world and using those borrowed funds to finance a profligate lifestyle.

      So not only are we confronted with the natural inflation that occurs when currency supplies expand far faster than the underlying economy supporting that currency, we are facing a 'catch-up' scenario where Americans will be dealing with all those borrowed funds they've had access to.

      In effect the US is a profligate spender who's borrowed and borrowed - paying off old debt with new.  We've spent far beyond our means and now are on the verge of finding out that nobody is willing to lend us any more money.  No more additional debt means that we cannot pay off our old debt - because we sure aren't earning enough to make those payments.

      We're screwed in more ways than we realize - with government and banks all trying to keep the scheme from collapsing.

      Life isn't fair but you should try to leave it fairer than you found it.

      by xrepub on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:03:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I worry more about deflation (0+ / 0-)

        When the money supply dries up, less money is chasing the same amount of product. Salaries tend to go down faster than prices. Debt becomes almost impossible to pay.

        Then prices for big-ticket items start to drop, but no one is buying--because prices will most likely drop further. Production drops.

        But this doesn't help the poor; in fact, it helps anyone who has fixed investments--bonds, savings, maybe precious metals.

        •  You're seeing deflation ONLY (0+ / 0-)

          on the things you really DON'T NEED -

          You don't NEED to own a huge house (or second or third house)
          You don't NEED to own a loaded top end car
          You don't NEED to own so very many things whose prices are going down (do you REALLY 'need' the widest flat screen TV or newest iPhone or laptop or tablet?)

          You ARE seeing INFLATION (and often severely understated inflation) on anything you DO need

          You NEED food (and prices on food have been rising dramatically)
          You NEED water (check on prices for water provided by utilities)
          You NEED energy (electricity and heating)
          If you rent a place to live, those prices are going up - drastically in some markets

          and while you don't 'need' taxes' the cost of those is increasing drastically -

          Income taxes are increasing because of inflation as more people are bumped into higher brackets
          Local property taxes are rising dramatically (and local fees and fines are going up dramatically as well)

          We're seeing a pattern that is classic in scenarios that eventually evolve into serious inflation - government far outspending its income, getting farther and farther into debt, while the overall economy contracts

          Life isn't fair but you should try to leave it fairer than you found it.

          by xrepub on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 06:54:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hey I Found Where We Mislaid Our 6 Trillion Dollrs (4+ / 0-)
    16,000 families possess $6 trillion in assets -- equal to the total wealth of the bottom two-thirds of American families.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 12:05:49 PM PDT

  •  Elizabeth Warren and the $22.00 minimum wage (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Darth Stateworker

    In March of 2013 Senator Warren said,  "If we started in 1960 and we said that as productivity goes up, that is as workers are producing more, then the minimum wage is going to go up the same. And if that were the case then the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour," she said to a Professor Dube,  "So my question is Mr. Dube, with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, what happened to the other $14.75? It sure didn't go to the worker."

    Check out the Rich Kids of Instagram site for your answer.

    "The working class mind is strange and unpredictable" -- Ty Lookwell

    by Illinibeatle on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 12:16:46 PM PDT

    •  The Missing Point Is Often Made by Thom Hartmann: (3+ / 0-)

      Until around 1970, as productivity went up, worker income DID GO UP along with it.

      But after LBJ left office, the very rich confiscated all of society's growth from then on.

      So she's not asking for anything radical or new, just a return to our previous norm.

      From, you know, the good old days.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 12:27:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great post! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xxdr zombiexx

    Hey, I have an idea. Why don't we replace that damned national debt clock on Wall Street with the last one in your diary?

    "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up." --Lily Tomlin

    by paulex on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 07:13:55 PM PDT

  •  Sooooo.... much as I have thought my entire life (0+ / 0-)

    capitalism takes money right out of human beings.

  •  Adam Smith - min wage indicates health of economy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nicteis, qofdisks

    Here is the exact statement

    Unskilled Wage

     Among Adam Smith’s many insights, one deserves special attention. It is his observation that the condition of unskilled wages is a reliable indicator of the overall health of an economy. In his words:

    The liberal reward of labor, therefore, as it is the necessary effect, so it is the natural symptom of increasing national wealth. The scanty maintenance of the laboring poor, on the other hand, is the natural symptom that things are at a stand, and their starving condition that they are going backwards fast.1
    The wages of unskilled workers are the canary in the coal mine. As Adam Smith warned in the quote above, when these wages stop growing it is a sign the economy has ground to a halt. When they are falling, it is a sure bet the economy is shrinking and in serious trouble.
    from the start of Chapter 2, Pg. 53 of

    “Worse than You Think: The Real Economy Hidden Beneath Washington’s Rigged Statistics, And Where To Go From Here”,

    by Keith Quincy. Available and barnes and for $16. Kindle 99 cents

    •  This is from chapter 8 of Wealth of Nations (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest

      (Different pages, of course, in different editions.)

      Adam Smith is a bit like Ronald Reagan, or even Jesus of Nazareth - a god to the right wing, whose name is spoken in hushed or braying reverence, but who would be drummed out of their society if they had the misfortune to be resurrected and set among them.

      The real USA Patriot Act was written in 1789. It's called the Bill of Rights.

      by nicteis on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:27:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The war on workers will continue until more (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, rhauenstein

    Americans vote.

    Too many Americans haven't made the connection between their vote and their income. Generated "issues" get in the way.

    Abortion, gay marriage, gun ownership and a host of issues are ready fodder to fuel political divide.

    Doing what I can to help stop the Blight from the Right.

    by 4Freedom on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:35:19 PM PDT

  •  The steady economic vampyr drip from the working (0+ / 0-)

    class to the rentier and 1%.

  •  The real scandal (0+ / 0-)

    The real scandal here is that minimum wage workers have lost so little, not so much.

    "There is no room for injustice anywhere in the American mansion." Lyndon Johnson

    by pkgoode on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 04:08:41 AM PDT

  •  TIME TO BUY GOLD! Oh, those aren't the debt clo... (0+ / 0-)


    Oh, those aren't the debt clock gold commercial clocks.

    Nvrmnd :-|

  •  fgdstyre (0+ / 0-)

    input this URL:

    ( )

    you can find many cheap and high stuff

    Believe you will love it.


  •  Focusing on the symptom (0+ / 0-)

    I was excited to see a title suggestive of a discussion on the curse of inflation.

    I was then saddened to see that the post is focusing solely on the symptom ("low wages") and not cause for the decline in purchasing power.

    The sooner we accept that inflation is a tax on the poor we can then address the problem.   Raising minimum wage does not nothing to address the root cause...    

    The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency. The second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity. Both bring a permanent ruin.  -- Earnest Hemingway  
  •  Income inequality hurts the working poor. (0+ / 0-)

    Income inequality hurts the working poor.

  •  Imagine If You Counted (0+ / 0-)

    From a living wage, instead of just the minimum wage.

    But, who's counting?

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