Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ike's minimum wage pushed it as hard as LBJ's -- 2/3 of 'real" average wage"

I've been noting that LBJ's 1968 minimum wage ($10/hr in today's money) was really pushing the limits at two-thirds of the "real" average wage ("real" meaning all non-investment personal income divided by 2000 hours X 140 million jobs -- not the gov's number, whatever that's based on, which grew only 20% over the last 40 years while per capita income grew 100%).

I've just realized that Ike's 1956 minimum wage ($8/hr) was pushing it exactly as hard as LBJ's.

Come to think of it, pushing the minimum wage to two-thirds of the "real" average wage in lower productivity times when average income was only 50% or 40% of today's -- if we believe those stink tanks dedicated to protecting the working poor from the highest pay they could command with adequate bargaining power -- would have done the most damage to low wage employment when there was so much less income head room. Obviously they had the opposite effect in much tighter living standard times.

In tribute to LBJ, the $8/hr minimum was not Ike's idea. LBJ as Senate majority leader, looked at the Senate floor one day in 1956, realized there were not enough members of the opposition present and called an instant vote to pass the $8/hr minimum wage. Ike had the decency and political realism in his words to sign it.

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