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Thu May 10, 2012, 07:43 AM

What minimum wage buys, then and now

The federal minimum wage was first set in 1938, at 25 cents an hour. Here's a decade-by-decade look, starting in 1950, at the buying power of minimum wage

1950

Often looked to as a model era, the 1950s may have been nearly as picture-perfect as "Leave it to Beaver" seemed to suggest -- minimum wage workers could pay rent for a month for less than a week and a half of full-time work -- or catch Disney's "Cinderella" for just over a half-hour of labor.

•Minimum wage: $0.75 per hour
•Gas: $0.27 or 22 minutes
•Movie ticket: $0.48 or 38 minutes
•Rent: $42 or 56 hours

1980

The beginning of the Reagan era marked the end of even the semi-feasibility of paying the median rent on a single minimum-wage income. A minimum-wage worker could still pay rent with just under two weeks of work (double the recommended ratio). Of course, if you lived in a more-affordable area, you'd be in better shape. In Mississippi, for example, you'd have to put in only 58 hours of work to pay the median rent.

•Minimum wage: $3.10 per hour
•Gas: $1.25 or 24 minutes
•Movie ticket: $2.60 or 50 minutes
•Rent: $243 or 78 hours

2010

Though the housing crash actually made rent more affordable, minimum-wage workers still had to put in 109 hours of work (or more than 60% of monthly income) in 2010. Of course, in cities like New York, the numbers are much higher. In 2010, the New York City-Northern New Jersey-Long Island area had a median gross rent of $1,125, which equals 155 hours of work. Basically, if you worked full-time, didn't eat, commute or pay utilities, and you gave nearly every penny to your landlord, you could just make it in the Big Apple.

•Minimum wage: $7.25 per hour
•Gas: $2.78 or 23 minutes
•Movie ticket: $7.95 or 1 hour, 6 minutes
•Rent: $789 or 109 hours


http://finances.msn.com/saving-money-advice/6952105

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Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply What minimum wage buys, then and now (Original post)
liberal N proud May 2012 OP
xchrom May 2012 #1
Sherman A1 May 2012 #2
progressoid May 2012 #3
oldhippydude May 2012 #9
rdking647 May 2012 #12
Sirveri May 2012 #18
TalkingDog May 2012 #4
bread_and_roses May 2012 #6
StarryNight May 2012 #17
Courtesy Flush May 2012 #5
LynneSin May 2012 #7
wandy May 2012 #15
Lydia Leftcoast May 2012 #8
malthaussen May 2012 #10
varelse May 2012 #11
DaveJ May 2012 #13
Demeter May 2012 #16
Dawgs May 2012 #14
Blue Owl May 2012 #19
ck4829 May 2012 #20
Heywood J May 2012 #21

Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 07:45 AM

1. du rec. nt

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 08:05 AM

2. K&R

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 08:10 AM

3. That's not taking into account a couple other big ticket items today.

Insurance and healthcare.

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Response to progressoid (Reply #3)

Thu May 10, 2012, 08:46 AM

9. it's actually worse than that..

starting sometime in the late 70's a couple of items were removed from calculations in the cost of living calculations.. those being fuel and food..the justification was that they were too volatile for analysis..by totally ignoring these factors, the COLA calculations underestimated the true rate of inflation..

while the illustration mentions gasoline.. the energy in general is now much higher.. as for food, we are caught with a higher world population, thus consumption, depletion of resources (especially maritime sources), as well as factors of climate change.. classical Malthusian problems..

throw a Little greed into the mix, and bingo!!!

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Response to oldhippydude (Reply #9)

Thu May 10, 2012, 09:25 AM

12. cola increases include food and energy

the core cpi ignores them but the actually cpi used for determining COLA increases includes food and energy

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Response to rdking647 (Reply #12)

Thu May 10, 2012, 05:55 PM

18. This is correct. They typically Use CPI-W

Which is the white collar index, but there has been a push to move towards C-CPI-U.

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 08:17 AM

4. Shouldn't this article be titled: "An overview of a half century of steady inflation"?

n/t

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Response to TalkingDog (Reply #4)

Thu May 10, 2012, 08:30 AM

6. No - it should be called 30+ years of wage suppression

Wages have been dropping or at best stagnant as workers productivity has been looted by the top 1%, with some "trickle down" going to the top 10% - but virtually none to the actual producers of wealth, the workers.

There's lots of info on this out there, which I don't feel like looking up right now but is easy enough to find.

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Response to bread_and_roses (Reply #6)

Thu May 10, 2012, 10:47 AM

17. Precisely; everything has been going up except paychecks. it has been going on

 

for decades. people have used credit to make up the difference, and then they have nothing in the bank and nothing saved for retirement.

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 08:22 AM

5. And min wage workers are often less than full time

I deal with a lot of low income people in my job. They frequently complain that they get no more than 30 hours per week at their job, but want to work more. Even calculating it at 40 hours per week, you can't make ends meet. At 30 hours, you're up the creek.

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 08:41 AM

7. I remember ages ago when I could buy $2 worth of gas and it would last me a few days

This was after college when I was poor as could be so sometimes $2 was all I could afford.

Now $2 won't even get me half a tank and I figured I'd have to buy about $10 of gas to get that same effect as the $2 worth back in the late 80s early 90s

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Response to LynneSin (Reply #7)

Thu May 10, 2012, 10:39 AM

15. LynneSin, you got me to thinking about something......

I filed the tank yesterday, just about 16 gallons. $60.00. Sixty bucks or just about 25%, yes one forth of what I paid for my first car.
And republicns want to get ride of the minimum wage.

Oh that looks like it will work out just fine.
In a third world country.

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 08:45 AM

8. University of Minnesota tuition

1968: 300 hours

2012: 1600 hours

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #8)

Thu May 10, 2012, 08:52 AM

10. That's the big one...

Despite the colleges having sold themselves to Big Business (and football), college tuition has spiralled 'way out of reach.

I notice gas has remained stable for over 60 years, "oil crises" notwithstanding, but it will soon take more minutes of work to pay for a movie than the movie itself runs.

-- Mal

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 08:57 AM

11. K&R

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 09:36 AM

13. Great way of looking at it

Money is a human invention, but time is real. We are having more time extracted from us by manipulating this made up money system. We should have a money system that directly correlates with time.

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Response to DaveJ (Reply #13)

Thu May 10, 2012, 10:47 AM

16. An truly revolutionary concept!

That would lead to an equal wage...everyone's hour having the same value, regardless. Assuming all work was equally safe, that is. A lot of dirty, unnecessary work could be shut down: coal mining, war...and safety could be mandated by demanding either safety improvements, or higher wages for those at risk, or mandating alternatives (solar instead of drilling for oil, etc).

If education was freely given, a society without war could be built upon such premises....

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 09:45 AM

14. Don't forget that without Democratic majorities in 2006 it would still be at 5.25. n/t

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Thu May 10, 2012, 06:09 PM

19. K&R

:kick:

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Fri May 11, 2012, 05:58 AM

20. Ouch

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Fri May 11, 2012, 07:29 AM

21. $2.78 gas, $8 movie tickets, $789...

Where are these people living and can I have some? I haven't seen gas that cheap since before Katrina and the other two sound like the late 1990s.

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