The $21.72 Minimum Wage


Posted by Bob Lord

Great chart at Huff Po, courtesy of CEPR. You can read the entire piece here, but as shown below, if the minimum wage had kept pace with worker productivity, as it did until about 1970, we'd be at $21.72 now. It's not so much that the wages of Walmart workers have not kept pace with inflation, it's that they're performing the same amount of work as two workers used to perform just a few decades ago.

Another interesting number would be the minimum wage if the ratio of the minimum wage to average income had stayed constant. Also, what would the median income be if it had kept pace with average income? In other words, how would the lowest paid workers and workers at the 50th percentile be paid if the distribution of income in the US had stayed constant for the past 4 decades?



  1. Thanks for the article.

    Libertarians point out that highest wages are in nations with nominal or no minimum wage but strong unions.

    For info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues worldwide, please see the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization @ ….