HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » What minimum wage buys, t...

Thu May 10, 2012, 06:43 AM

What minimum wage buys, then and now [View all]

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


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


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


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


21 replies, 7325 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply What minimum wage buys, then and now [View all]
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