This Friday, the federal minimum wage will increase from $6.55 to $7.25, the third and final step in the minimum wage increase Congress authorized in 2007. With this final step, an estimated 4.5 million of America’s lowest paid workers will receive a raise, but this increase still leaves the real value of the minimum wage lower than it was 30 years ago.
Since that time, minimum wage workers have achieved higher levels of education, one of the best measurable indicators of productivity. In 1979, 57.5% of workers who earned the minimum wage completed high school. That number swelled to about 72% in 2008.