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We are currently in the longest period without a minimum wage increase since Congress established the federal minimum wage in 1938.

Debates over increasing the minimum wage have always been (perhaps intentionally) misleading. The minimum wage law has never been indexed to keep pace with inflation. So the minimum wage loses value to inflation every year, even during times of low inflation. What we have all been trained to call an "increase" has typically been only a partial correction of that lost value. Yet we haven't even had one of those increases since July 2009.

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would be $9.99 if the law had built in adjustment for inflation in 2009, and $12.12 if that had been done in 1968. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the federal minimum wage is now worth less than at any other point since February 1956.

If the federal minimum wage had kept pace with productivity, it would now be over $26 per hour.

If it had been tied to a percentage of a maximum wage and increased in line with the increase in top incomes, it would dwarf $26.

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The minimum wage benefits tens of millions of mostly adult, mostly full-time workers directly -- and millions of additional workers (not to mention their families) indirectly -- without causing unemployment or any of the other drawbacks falsely claimed by its opponents.

While many states and cities have taken matters into their own hands, and the Biden administration has raised the minimum for federal contractors to $15 per hour, we desperately need the federal minimum wage raised to $15 for everyone and that number set to keep pace with inflation in the future.

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>> Economic Policy Institute: "The value of the federal minimum wage is at its lowest point in 66 years"
>> CBS News: "Minimum wage would be $26 an hour if it had grown in line with productivity"

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