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Reality Check: Minn.’s Minimum Wage Is Worth Less Now Than It Was In 1974

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Thousands of Minnesota workers earn a minimum wage that’s less today than it was in 1974 — that’s among the findings of a new state report on the minimum wage from the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Minnesota’s two tier minimum wage — between $5.25 and $6.15 an hour — is among the lowest in the country:
One of only four states — Arkansas, Georgia and Wyoming — have a minimum wage below the federal wage minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Setting aside some of the politics of the minimum wage, here are some of the facts, from a new report:
— 114,000 Minnesotans earn less than the $7.25 federal minimum wage.

– 20 percent of them are at or below the poverty level.

– 60 percent between the ages of 15 and 24.

– 40 percent are 24 and above.

– 47 percent work at bars and restaurants.

– 58 percent are women.
Among the most interesting findings of this state report is that the minimum wage today is actually less — in real dollars — than it was in 1974.

That’s the year President Richard Nixon resigned his office, the year The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the biggest show on TV, and the year the Minnesota Vikings lost their second Super Bowl to the Miami Dolphins.
The actual 1974 minimum wage was $1.80 an hour. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $8.74 in 2013 dollars. In other words, the 1974 minimum wage is 30 percent higher than today’s minimum wage in Minnesota of $6.15.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

MN Department of Labor 2013 Minimum Wage Report

Mininum Wage Rates By State

US Dept of Labor Wage Rates

1974 Events
Nov 2013 Gallup Poll Minimum Wage

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Minimum Wage

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