At the beginning of this year, San Francisco became the first city in the country to raise its minimum wage above $10 an hour, and eight states boosted their own respective minimum wages, providing new benefits to approximately 1.4 million workers. But even in those states, the minimum wage is hardly keeping up with the cost of living — we would need a $9.92-per-hour wage, more than $2 above the current federal minimum, to match the buying power of the minimum wage in 1968.
The minimum wage looks even more paltry when compared to health care costs and college tuition rates, two areas where costs are ballooning at extraordinary rates. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, it would take someone making the federal minimum wage a full year’s worth of work to afford a family health insurance policy, and slightly less than half of a full year’s work to afford tuition at the average public university. That’s far more work than was required by a minimum wage-earner in 1979:
Despite overwhelming evidence that the minimum wage is becoming increasingly insufficient, Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures across the country have opposed efforts to raise it. Instead, they have advocated for lowering the minimum wage or for abolishing it altogether.