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While Congress Dawdles, the U.S. Minimum Wage has Dropped 10.5%

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has issued a new report describing changes to the cost of living in the United States, adding new data to make it current up through February of 2016.  That new report reveals that since July 2009, the last time the U.S. minimum wage was changed, the cost of living has gone up 11.7%.  A converse way that economists understanding that change is to say that the real inflation-adjusted value of the U.S. minimum wage has dropped by 10.5% while Congress has done nothing.

No, that’s not fair.  It’s not that the Congress has done nothing.  The Congress has done something.  It’s decided to take on thorny issues like the endorsement of magic as an avocation.  But what the Congress hasn’t done is changed the minimum wage to keep pace with the cost of living.

It’s not like minimum wage workers are exerting 10.5% less effort now, compared to 2009.  On the contrary: U.S. labor productivity has gone up more than 8% during the same period.

Making more money for their employers.  Being paid less.  Do you think that’s fair?

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