It’s been a record 11 years since the last increase in U.S. minimum wage

By Aimee Picchi

July 24, 2020

It’s been 11 years since the last federal minimum wage hike, the longest span the baseline wage has gone without an increase since it began in 1938.

Since the last federal minimum wage hike — to $7.25 an hour, starting July 24, 2009 — the cost of living has increased 20%, while the price of essentials such as housing and health care have increased even faster. That left many low-wage workers with little financial flexibility or savings as pandemic hit the nation this year and swiftly resulted in a recession and double-digit unemployment.

The average rent back in 2009 was about $1,132, adjusted for inflation. But housing costs have soared in the past decade, pushing the average rent to almost $1,470 in February — or almost 30% higher than the typical rent in 2009, according to the latest RENTCafe report.

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