The History of Minimum Wage

Once you’ve made your way into the workforce, terminology such as minimum wage, salary, and base pay will become popular in your vocabulary. When it comes to minimum wage, have you ever wondered where it came from? Was it created? Who thought of it? How has it become such an essential factor in today’s work force? The CGS Team has gathered some interesting information on the history of minimum wage, and we’re sharing with you.

The history of minimum wage…

The world’s first minimum wage dates back to 1894 in New Zealand. Following the minimum wage experiment taken on by the country, other countries began implementing the law in their own regions. Minimum wage in the U.S. isn’t as old as some may imagine. It wasn’t until 1938 that the first federal minimum wage was introduced. President at the time Franklin Roosevelt was the one who acquainted America with value of minimum wage through the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Minimum wage was set at 25 cents an hour, which is equivalent to $4 per hour today. Since the original minimum wage was introduced in 1938, it’s been raised an estimated 22 times by 12 different presidents. The minimum wage in America is purposely set up not to rise with inflation, therefore it can only be raised upon congressional authority. Check out the listing of changes made to the minimum wage amount since 1938.

October 1938 (FDR): $0.25/hr

October 1939 (FDR): $0.30/hr

October 1945 (Truman): $0.40/hr

January 1950 (Truman): $0.75/hr

March 1956 (Eisenhower): $1/hr

September 1961 (Kennedy): $1.16/hr

September 1963 (Kennedy): $1.25/hr

February 1967 (Johnson): $1.40/hr

February 1968 (Johnson): $1.60/hr

May 1974 (Nixon): $2/hr

January 1975 (Ford): $2.10/hr

January 1976 (Ford): $2.30/hr

January 1978 (Carter): $2.65/hr

January 1979 (Carter): $2.90/hr

January 1980 (Carter): $3.10/hr

January 1981 (Carter): $3.35/hr

April 1990 (Bush): $3.80/hr

April 1991 (Bush): $4.25/hr

October 1996 (Clinton): $4.75/hr

September 1997 (Clinton): $5.15/hr

July 2007 (GW Bush): $5.85/hr

July 2008 (GW Bush): $6.55/hr

July 2009 (Obama): $7.25/hr

Above statistics come courtesy of


The amounts of minimum wage has seen a drastic increase from when it first started until now, thankfully! It’s important to know that states also have their own requirements when it comes to pay. Minimum wage has plays a vital role in our country’s history. It has always been and will likely remain to be an attention-grabbing topic of conversation. Do you think minimum wage should increase? Have you been affected by minimum wage during your course of work? Let’s get vocal about finances! Leave a comment below to share.

-The CGS Team



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