The economy can afford a much higher national minimum wage: Real and nominal federal minimum wages (historical and under the Raise the Wage of 2021) compared with productivity-tracking minimum wage

Year Nominal (face value) Nominal (face value) Real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) value in 2021$ Projected real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) value in 2021$ Real value if tracking productivity growth since 1948 (in 2021$) Real value if tracking productivity growth since 1948 (in 2021$)
1938 $0.25 $4.07
1939 $0.30 $4.95
1940 $0.30 $4.92
1941 $0.30 $4.68
1942 $0.30 $4.22
1943 $0.30 $3.98
1944 $0.30 $3.91
1945 $0.40 $5.10
1946 $0.40 $4.71
1947 $0.40 $4.12
1948 $0.40 $3.81 $5.98
1949 $0.40 $3.86 $6.07
1950 $0.75 $7.14 $6.53
1951 $0.75 $6.62 $6.71
1952 $0.75 $6.50 $6.90
1953 $0.75 $6.45 $7.14
1954 $0.75 $6.40 $7.26
1955 $0.75 $6.42 $7.55
1956 $1.00 $8.44 $7.57
1957 $1.00 $8.17 $7.77
1958 $1.00 $7.94 $7.93
1959 $1.00 $7.89 $8.23
1960 $1.00 $7.75 $8.37
1961 $1.15 $8.83 $8.63
1962 $1.15 $8.74 $8.95
1963 $1.25 $9.38 $9.27
1964 $1.25 $9.25 $9.56
1965 $1.25 $9.11 $9.86
1966 $1.25 $8.85 $10.16
1967 $1.40 $9.62 $10.28
1968 $1.60 $10.59 $10.59
1969 $1.60 $10.13 $10.63
1970 $1.60 $9.66 $10.78
1971 $1.60 $9.26 $11.18
1972 $1.60 $8.99 $11.49
1973 $1.60 $8.46 $11.77
1974 $2.00 $9.61 $11.59
1975 $2.10 $9.32 $11.84
1976 $2.30 $9.66 $12.17
1977 $2.30 $9.08 $12.31
1978 $2.65 $9.79 $12.45
1979 $2.90 $9.79 $12.44
1980 $3.10 $9.41 $12.36
1981 $3.35 $9.29 $12.58
1982 $3.35 $8.76 $12.45
1983 $3.35 $8.40 $12.82
1984 $3.35 $8.07 $13.16
1985 $3.35 $7.80 $13.37
1986 $3.35 $7.67 $13.64
1987 $3.35 $7.41 $13.68
1988 $3.35 $7.15 $13.87
1989 $3.35 $6.85 $13.99
1990 $3.80 $7.41 $14.16
1991 $4.25 $7.99 $14.26
1992 $4.25 $7.80 $14.79
1993 $4.25 $7.61 $14.85
1994 $4.25 $7.45 $14.97
1995 $4.25 $7.28 $15.04
1996 $4.75 $7.92 $15.32
1997 $5.15 $8.41 $15.59
1998 $5.15 $8.30 $15.91
1999 $5.15 $8.12 $16.35
2000 $5.15 $7.86 $16.71
2001 $5.15 $7.64 $16.96
2002 $5.15 $7.52 $17.43
2003 $5.15 $7.35 $18.01
2004 $5.15 $7.16 $18.49
2005 $5.15 $6.93 $18.85
2006 $5.15 $6.71 $18.99
2007 $5.85 $7.41 $19.12
2008 $6.55 $7.99 $19.21
2009 $7.25 $8.87 $19.65
2010 $7.25 $8.73 $20.22
2011 $7.25 $8.46 $20.22
2012 $7.25 $8.29 $20.30
2013 $7.25 $8.17 $20.38
2014 $7.25 $8.03 $20.50
2015 $7.25 $8.02 $20.71
2016 $7.25 $7.91 $20.76
2017 $7.25 $7.75 $20.96
2018 $7.25 $7.56 $21.18
2019 $7.25 $7.43 $21.42
2020 $7.25 $7.25 $7.34 $7.34 $21.69 $21.69
2021 $9.50 $9.50 $22.14
2022 $11.00 $10.80 $22.37
2023 $12.50 $12.01 $22.71
2024 $14.00 $13.16 $23.09
2025 $15.00 $13.79 $23.53

Notes: Inflation is measured using the CPI-U-RS and CBO CPI-U projections.. Productivity is measured as total economy productivity net depreciation.

Sources: EPI analysis of the Fair Labor Standards Act and amendments and the Raise the Wage Act of 2021. Total economy productivity data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Labor Productivity and Costs program.

View the underlying data on epi.org.