Chart: The Declining Value of the U.S. Federal Minimum Wage


This post is by Marcus Lu from Visual Capitalist


See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

Chart showing the declining real value of the U.S. minimum wage

The Declining Value of the U.S. Federal Minimum Wage

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources. This graphic illustrates the history of the U.S. federal minimum wage using data compiled by Statista, in both nominal and real (inflation-adjusted) terms. The federal minimum wage was raised to $7.25 per hour in July 2009, where it has remained ever since.

Nominal vs. Real Value

The data we used to create this graphic can be found in the table below.
YearNominal value
($/hour)
Real value
($/hour)
19400.36.5
19450.46.82
19500.759.64
19550.758.52
1960110.28
19651.2512.08
19701.612.61
19752.112.04
19803.111.61
19853.359.51
19903.88.94
19954.258.49
20005.159.12
20055.158.03
20107.2510.09
20157.259.3
20187.258.78
20197.258.61
20207.258.58
20217.258.24
20227.257.61
20237.257.25
What our graphic shows is how inflation has eroded the real value of the U.S. minimum wage over time, despite nominal increases. For instance, consider the year 1960, when the federal minimum wage was $1 per hour. After accounting for inflation, this would be worth around $10.28 today! The two lines converge at 2023 because the nominal and real value are identical in present day terms.

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