A Wage with a Past
In 1938, the federal government established a minimum wage for the first time. It was 25 cents an hour, or 4.15 in today’s dollars. Now, both President Obama and Governor O’Malley have made raising the minimum wage a priority. In Maryland, the minimum wage is currently the same as the federal rate, 7.25. The legislature is considering a proposal that would raise that to $10.10 by 2017.
The House Economic Matters committee made significant changes to the original bill as proposed by Governor O’Malley. The original bill had been indexed to inflation--the committee took that out. They also froze wages for tipped workers at $3.63, and exempted amusement parks and recreation centers.
The bill passed out of the Economic Matters committee earlier this week. It’s scheduled for a House floor vote today. You can see the House version here (House Bill 295) and the Senate version here (Senate Bill 331).
Sheilah talks about the proposal with WYPR’s statehouse reporter Chris Connelly, and about the history of the minimum wage with Angus Burgin, a history professor at Johns Hopkins University, and author of the book The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression.
You can also view an excellent video from Time showing changes in the minimum wage over the years here.