Congressional Research Service (CRS)
Inflation and the Real Minimum Wage: A Fact Sheet
Craig K. Elwell, Specialist in Macroeconomic Policy
Linda Levine, Specialist in Labor Economics
February 26, 2013
[full-text, 4 pages]
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 established the hourly minimum wage rate at
25 cents for covered workers.1 Since then, it has been raised 22 separate times, in part to
keep up with rising prices. Most recently, in July 2009, it was increased to $7.25 an hour.
Because there have been some extended periods between these adjustments while inflation
generally has increased, the real value (purchasing power) of the minimum wage has decreased
substantially over time.