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Is it payday yet? The history of minimum wage

  • Obama vows to raise minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015
  • Minimum wage hasn't gone up since 2009
Is it payday yet? The history of minimum wage

During his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama vowed to make good on his promise to increase the minimum wage by 2015, and now countless U.S. workers may be looking forward to earning just a smidgen more in each paycheck. 

Of course, regardless of what your opinions are about what the new minimum wage is projected to be -- $9 an hour -- you might be interested to learn what minimum-wage workers earned in years past. For example, when the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938, hourly wages were just a quarter. Doesn't sound like much by today's standards. But according to the U.S. Department of Labor, $100 in 1938 was equivalent to $1,628 dollars today -- so it kind of puts things in perspective.

The last time there was a change in minimum wage was four years ago, when it increased to $7.25 an hour. Four years isn't the longest U.S. workers have ever had to wait, though. Here are a few memorable moments in the history of minimum wage evolution:

  • 1939: $0.30
  • 1950: $0.75
  • 1956: $1.00
  • 1968: $1.60
  • 1974: $2.00
  • 1980: $3.10
  • 1991: $4.25
  • 1997: $5.15
  • 2008: $6.55
  • 2009: $7.25

During his address, the president said, "No one who works full time should have to live in poverty." Will $9 an hour fix that?

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