Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How Minimum is the Minimum Wage?

Yesterday we looked at Esri's Predominant Income Range by Households map, which shows how much money people are earning in each census tract in the United States. Esri has also released a story map this week which looks at the history of The Ever-Changing Minimum Wage.

The first federally mandated minimum wage was introduced in America in 1938. It meant that all employees had to be paid at least 25 cents an hour. The federal minimum wage is now $7.25 an hour but it hasn't been raised since 2009. You can view the current minimum wage in each state on Esri's map.

The Esri map includes an animation showing how the minimum wage has fallen or risen in real terms in each state over the last 48 years. This map illustrates how inflation has outstripped any rises in the minimum wage. In fact in 2018 the highest-paid minimum wage worker (who would work in the District of Columbia) will earn less than the highest-paid minimum wage worker (in Alaska) in 1970.

Esri's Ever-Changing Minimum Wage includes a map showing the Living Wage in each state. This is the real wage that a worker need to earn in a state in order to live there. Regardless of the local minimum wage, all states fail to guarantee minimum wages that actually match up to the cost of living in the state.

Some cities, counties and states have taken it upon themselves to raise wages locally. There is now a growing divide between states that have increased minimum wages and are at least bringing minimum wages closer to the cost of living, versus those states that are slower to raise minimum wages (or don’t raise wages at all).

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