Amid protests across the country over retail and service jobs that pay little better than the minimum wage, it’s easy to forget that this income benchmark once meant something slightly different. In the past, a minimum-wage job was actually one that could keep a single parent out of poverty.
Since the 1980s, the federal minimum wage has kept pace with neither inflation, nor the rise of the average worker’s paycheck. That means that while a federal minimum wage in 1968 could have lifted a family of three above the poverty line, now it can’t even do that for a parent with one child, working full-time, 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year (yes, this calculation assumes that the parent takes no time off).
Emily Badger, Bloomberg
December 4, 2013