Monday, October 15, 2012

Exploration Seven: Minimum Wage

One historical event that really stood out to me in the reading is the whole lack of minimum wage. Because there was so little work, the workers were fighting over whatever jobs they could find. Often what mattered the most to who was hiring was how much, or actually how little, you were willing to work for. The competition between laborers was fierce. If someone offered to do the job for twenty-five cents, another person would offer to do it for twenty cents, and so on and so forth, until the wage wasn't anything besides food to eat. If you were paid in food, it wasn't nearly enough to feed your family. Employers had it great back in the days before minimum wage. They could pay next to nothing and get all their labor done because people were so desperate. They could then sell their product and make high profits because they spent so little on getting the work done. A good passage from the reading that supports the abundance of laborers but not enough work to do is "For every manload to lift, five pairs of arms extended to lift it; for every stomachful of food available, five mouths open." This really shows that the people during this time period were struggling to get food for their families and to make a living. Our nation first tried to adopt a national minimum wage in 1933, for twenty-five cents an hour, as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act. However, this was taken to court and The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional, so the act was abolished. The Fair Labor Standards Act was put into place in 1938, re-establishing the original minimum wage of twenty-five cents per hour. This time the concept of minimum wage was successful, and our nation has used it ever since. Many would argue that it is not a good thing, but others argue that it has helped our country out a lot since the great depression. After researching the economics of it for yourself, you can form your own opinions about minimum wage.


  1. The employers really did have an easy way out when it came to getting labor in the book and in the depression. I don't think it was right, but good thing there is some regulation today, otherwise we could be in the same boat as the 1930's.

  2. This is a very good exploration.. I feel it was for the laborers in some ways to lower their prices. So that the new people who arrived were able to have the jobs, but at the same time it is hard on those who were relying on the same amount every day or week. As of today when someone has been working and has a set amount each week or month than someone changes that amount. it can sure put a hurt on them..

  3. I agree with both rhonda and chris, this very good exlporation. It was easy for people to get money in the 1930's, but its not the same now. And also during the 1930s they could get paid just little to do work but now we have the minimum wage. If we didnt we would be just like the 1930s, which would be terrible.