The minimum wage would be $16.50 an hour — $33,000 a year — if it had kept up with the growth of productivity since 1968. To put the effect of this a different way, 40% of Americans now make less than the 1968 minimum wage, had the minimum wage kept pace with productivity gains.
To put this even another way, the average American’s living standard would be much, much higher today if wages had not decoupled from productivity gains – with the gains all going to the 1% instead of being shared by We, the People. If wages had kept pace we wouldn’t feel the terrible squeeze that everyone in the middle class is feeling. (Never mind what has happened to those below the middle class.)
This is one more way to understand the effect of income and wealth inequality on each of us. The 1%/99% thing is real. When you hear that the Wal-Mart heirs have more than 1/3 of all Americans combined, it is real. When you hear that the people on the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined, it is real.
And the effects on the rest of us are real.
SOURCE: Dave Johnson, http://blog.ourfuture.org/