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Due to inflation and price increases, minimum wage is at its lowest value since 1956

An “Urgently hiring” sign sits on the sidewalk in front of Tonyburgers in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. According to recent analysis, the current minimum wage is now at its lowest value since 1956.

An “Urgently hiring” sign sits on the sidewalk in front of Tonyburgers in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. According to recent analysis, the current minimum wage is now at its lowest value since 1956. (Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Minimum wage is now at its lowest value in 66 years when accounting for inflation and price increases.

This comes from a recent Economic Policy Institute analysis of Consumer Price Index data which found today's federal minimum wage is at its lowest worth since February 1956.

Currently, the federal minimum wage sits at $7.25. In February 1956, the minimum wage was 75 cents, the equivalent to $7.19 in June 2022 dollars.

Americans haven't seen a federal minimum wage increase since 2009 when Congress raised the wage from $6.55 to $7.25. This is the longest the federal government has gone without increasing the wage since the federal minimum wage began in 1938.

Compared to 2009, the minimum wage has decreased in value by 27.4% due to inflation.

This means someone working full time on minimum wage in 2009 would make about $5,000 more than someone earning minimum wage working the same hours today, according to CNBC.

"Think what that means for someone who's trying to afford rent, or a car payment, or student loans or whatever it may be," David Cooper, director of the economic analysis and research network at the Economic Policy Institute, told CNBC. "That's an enormous difference in that person's quality of life."

While the federal minimum wage has remained stagnant, some states have raised the minimum wage within their own borders. Nevada, Oregon, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., all raised minimum wages just this month.

Still, in 20 states including Utah, the minimum wage remains at $7.25.

Last year, a federal minimum wage increase to $15 an hour failed in the U.S. Senate when Democrats tried to include it in a coronavirus relief package.

Also in 2021, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, introduced a bill to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $10 over three years. The bill hasn't made it to the Senate floor.

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