History of the Minimum Wage in the US

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), workers in the US must be paid a minimum wage. States and municipalities all have the option of raising the federally set standard of $7.25 per hour.

According to HR Direct, the idea of a standard minimum wage came about in 1912 when Massachusset became the first state to pass a law, covering women and children as well. Many states took the same actions, but the Supreme Court ruled it as unconstitutional.

In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt took similar action to establish a federal minimum wage of .25 cents per hour as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act. The Supreme Court also ruled it as unconstitutional.

President Roosevelt took another stab at it in 1938, creating the FLSA and establishing the minimum wage to “maintain a standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being.”

The Supreme Court upheld the FLSA in 1941, bumping it up to .40 cents per hour. In that time, a loaf of bread was $0.09, a gallon of milk $0.50, and a midsize car was $763.

In 1949, the wage nearly doubled, adding up to $.75 per hour. The FLSA was amended to include retail workers up to 2.2 million people.

There’s plenty more to read in the infographic below.