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About Minimum Wage

The real minimum wage falls as inflation rises, representing less purchasing power for minimum wage earnings

Minimum wage from 1938 to 2012
in nominal dollars and inflation-adjusted 2012 dollars

minwage chart

View the minimum wage from 1938 to 2012 data

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division, www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/chart.htm
1Inflation adjusted using CPI-W, annual averages 1938 to 2012, bls.gov/cpi


Over time, real GDP per capita has steadily increased, even when the minimum wage has been raised

Real GDP per capita compared to real minimum wage, 1930 to 2012

View the real GDP per capita compared to real minimum wage, 1930 to 2012 data

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, www.bea.gov
Mid-year population estimates from U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov
1In 2012 dollars, Chained GDP Deflator
2In 2012 dollars CPI-W, annual averages 1928 to 2012, bls.gov/cpi


Real GDP per capita has been increasing

Real GDP per capita

View the Real GDP per capita data

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, www.bea.gov
Mid-year population estimates from U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov


In percent terms, the change in GDP is not affected by increases in the minimum wage

Annual pct in real GDP per capita,
compared to pct in real minimum wage

View the Annual pct in real GDP per capita, compared to pct in real minimum wage data

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, www.bea.gov
Mid-year population estimates from U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov
Minimum Wage from U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division, www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/chart.htm
1In 2012 dollars, Chained GDP Deflator
2In 2012 Dollars CPI-W, annual averages 1928 to 2012, bls.gov/cpi