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A pay raise for minimum-wage employees is six weeks away

President Bush recently signed into law the first mandatory increase in the federal minimum wage in almost a decade. This is the longest period between such hikes since the hourly pay scale was introduced under terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938. To catch up with wage inflation over the intervening years, the law calls for ramping it up to $7.25 by 2009 from the current $5.15. The first phase, which takes effect July 24, bumps the scale to $5.85. Over a 26-month period, the wage floor will be raised by $2.10 to $7.25 an hour, easily the largest single jump on record. A timeline of the federal minimum wage – all but five states also have such provisions – from its inception and checking in at the beginning of each decade since:

1938 $0.25
1940 $0.30
1950 $0.75
1960 $1.00
1970 $1.60
1980 $3.10
1990 $3.80
2000 $5.15
2009 (projected) $7.25 – Labor Law Center

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