Economy Now

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A history of the minimum wage since 1938

February 14, 2013: 10:24 AM ET

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The grey line shows the minimum wage, unadjusted for inflation, whereas the blue line shows you what it would be worth in 2012.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt first created the minimum wage in 1938, it was 25 cents. Adjusted for inflation, that would be worth $4.07 today.

The minimum wage had its lowest buying power in 1948, when it was worth about $3.81 in today's dollars. It had its highest buying power in 1968, when it was worth about $10.56.

At $7.25 in 2012, our current minimum wage is in the middle of those two extremes.

President Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 would put it back to a value last seen in the early 1980s.

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