Monthly Latino Employment Report:  The Federal Minimum Wage

Catherine Singley, (April 5, 2013)

Issue: Economy and Workforce, Economy and Employment
Publication Type: Fact Sheet

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The federal minimum wage, which sets the floor on wages nationwide, has lost significant “real” value since it was first set in 1938.  Despite inflation, Congress has only raised the minimum wage three times in the past 30 years, most recently in 2007.  The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour (nineteen states have higher minimum wages).  If instead, the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be $10.67 per hour.

The current minimum wage is not enough to keep a single parent with one child out of poverty.  Over the past few decades, Latinos have been more likely than Whites and Blacks to earn poverty-level wages.  The failure of wages to cover basic needs is one of the major factors contributing to rising Latino child poverty and income inequality.