The History of Minimum Wage

The minimum wage laws currently in place were developed over a significant period of time. Although they are now widely known by the majority of workers across the country, minimum compensation laws did not become official until the early 20th century after significant labor unrest and political protest. In their current iteration, laws may not be sufficient to cover a worker’s cost of living, but can certainly provide an important foundation of workers’ rights.
Minimum pay laws first developed in the state of Massachusetts. In 1912, the state began to discuss how to implement a minimum pay system to provide workers with better, more stable payment for their labor. Prior to the use of minimum wage laws, workers had few securities in terms of a profitable contemporary meaning wage. Instead, their pay could get bogged down in repair costs for broken machinery or medical bills from workplace injuries. With a set wage minimum, workers at least were guaranteed a basic pay that could prove profitable in conjunction with other Fair Labor Standards Act benefits.
In 1938, the first national wage requirement was passed that was not eventually struck down by the courts. Before this law, there was a short-lived minimum pay amount that lasted 1933 to 1935, but was then considered unconstitutional. After 1938, Congress had the power to set a federal minimum, which could be modified to match changes in policy or the inflation of the dollar. Within recent history, the federal minimum wage law was supplemented with a law that permitted states to set their own minimum wages higher than the federal price.
Currently, minimum wage laws differ according to the states. While some have not taken up the government’s invitation to increase their own minimum pay, divorce discovery checklist others have increased their wages significantly. In part, many of these states have changed their minimum to better address their high costs of living.
To learn more about how minimum wage laws work currently, contact an employment attorney.

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