Keeping track: minimum wage

What your dollar can really buy

Earlier this month, Congress passed a bill that would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 by April 2001.

The minimum wage was born in 1938 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, setting the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents. (Translated into 1999 dollars, that's $2.95.)

Since then, Congress has raised the minimum wage nine times.

In 1996 (the year of the last increase), the minimum wage - adjusted for inflation - was approaching a 40-year low. The impact of inflation had largely undone the advances of the increase of 1989. It was therefore raised from $4.25 to $5.15.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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