New Report Shows More Than $300,000 Lost in Wages Per Worker

Lost Wages: Over a Quarter Million Reasons to Increase the Inflation-Gutted Minimum Wage: 

New Report Reveals the Amount of Wages a Minimum Wage Worker

Has Been Deprived of Since 1968

June 13, 2013

A new report, Lost Wages, released today by the Center for Study of Responsive Law’s project, revealed that a single minimum wage worker continually working from 1968 to today on the lagging federal minimum wage would have been deprived of about $293,735 in wages. The report explained that individual minimum wage workers have lost nearly $300,000 in wages since 1968 because of countless Congress’ and Presidents’ failures to make sure the federal minimum wage at least kept pace with inflation. Since 1968, the minimum wage has lost nearly one third of its inflation adjusted value. Had the federal minimum wage simply kept pace with inflation in that time, it would stand at nearly $10.70 per hour today instead of the present federal minimum wage of $7.25.

“It is time for a raise. Thirty million Americans can’t afford to wait any longer. They should be earning at least what they did 45 years ago, adjusted for inflation. It is time to catch up with 1968!” said Ralph Nader.

Seventy-five years ago this month, on June 25, 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, establishing the first lasting federal minimum wage in the United States. On this 75th anniversary of the federal minimum wage, this report serves as a stark reminder that low-wage workers in America have been left behind.

Starting in 2013, each year the minimum wage is not increased, minimum wage workers lose over $7,000 in wages. Last year alone, the report estimates, 3.6 million minimum wage workers were deprived of about $15.3 billion in wages.

“Every year that Congress and the President fail to raise the minimum wage, they are effectively telling hard-working low-wage workers throughout this country that they are worth less than they were the year before,” said the report’s author, Jeff Musto.

In the same time that the minimum wage has lost nearly one third of its value, CEO compensation has skyrocketed over 900 percent. Last year’s highest compensated CEO, John Hammergren of McKesson Corp., received $131 million. In 15 minutes, he made more than a minimum wage worker does in a year. In an hour, he made $63,000; $10,000 more than the median annual household income in the U.S. And he is not alone: the top 100 highest compensated CEOs all made over $15 million last year, or the equivalent of over $7,000 per hour.

“It is shameful that Congress has allowed even government contractors’ CEOs’ compensation to reach dizzying heights, while low-wage workers struggle just to afford basic necessities like food, housing, transportation, and health care. No more waiting, no more excuses – Congress needs to act to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.50 per hour, and they need to act now! The AFL-CIO also needs to make this cause a high action priority.” concluded Nader.

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