JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 2057JFK SIGNED MINIMUM WAGE ACT 55 YEARS AGO
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, September 2, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Minimum Wage Act of 1961.
The legislation raised the minimum wage to $1.15 an hour for workers previously covered and to $1.00 an hour for newly covered workers. The administration said the bill would provide millions of American workers a chance to enjoy a greater share of the nation's economic progress.
President Kennedy called it..."one of the most important domestic accomplishments so far of this administration."
According to the United States Department of Labor, the Minimum Wage Act of 1961 expanded the scope of the Fair Labor Standards Act* in the retail trade sector and in addition to increasing the minimum wage to $1.15 in September 1961 provided for another increase to $1.25 in September 1963.
In 2007, the minimum wage was increased to $5.85 an hour, $6.55 in 2008 and $7.25 in 2009.
The Democratic Party has traditionally supported increases in the minimum wage while the Republican Party has traditionally opposed them. According to ProCon.org, a higher minimum wage may create jobs and grow the economy, but, on the other hand, may force employers to stop hiring, layoff existing workers or even go out of business.
New Zealand was the first nation to enact a minimum wage law (1894).
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was New Deal legislation which provided for the establishment of fair labor standards in employment in and affecting interstate commerce. The first minimum wage under FLSA was set at 25 cents an hour. The minimum wage has been increased 22 times over the history of the act. 29 states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wages that the Federal minimum.
"Facts About Minimum Wage," Institute of Ecolonomics, www.ecolonomics.org/
"History of Changes to the Minimum Wage Law" United States Department of Labor, www.dol.gov/
"Should the Federal Minimum Wage be increased?," ProCon.org, www.minimum-wage.procon.org/