Saturday, February 10, 2007

July, 2005
$9/hour has become the minimum wage norm in modern Europe – for now! England’s and Ireland’s minimums are scheduled to rise above that in 2006. The minimums of such poor countries as Greece, Malta and Cyprus cluster around $170/week (E600); a little less than America's.

The United States of America of 1968” featured a minimum wage of $9/hour (at half of today’s labor productivity!) – scheduled to drop in future years (if we had had a crystal ball) to $8/hour by 1974, $7/hour by 1981, $6/hour by 1991 and $5.15/hour by today (which remits the same take home amount as the untaxed $4/hour minimum of 1939 -- in adjusted 2005 dollars).

European minimum wages – and their negotiated equivalents -- are adjusted annually – excepting the Netherlands (at $350/week) and Latvia every two years). The USA's 1997 minimum has stuck still for 8 years, now; 1991’s stuck for 4 years; 1981’s for 9 years.

The interesting thing here is that, if L.B.J.’s minimum could pay $9/hour at half of today’s American and European labor productivity, does that mean economies on both sides of the Atlantic could practicably support an $18/hour minimum wage today?! Just to pose the question.

A $12/hour, USA minimum wage would raise the cost of GDP output by only a manageable 3.5% -- not counting other wages being pushed up – and could effectively eliminate most poverty and crime levels that Europe hasn't had for a long time.

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