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CCSS: 6.SP.B.5, 7.SP.A.2, MP1, MP3, MP5

TEKS: 6.12C, 6.12D, 7.6G, 7.12B

Raising the Minimum Wage

A job as a lifeguard or store cashier will likely earn you the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour—unless you live in cities like Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C, where the minimum wage is higher. For years, people have been fighting to increase the minimum wage in cities and states across the U.S. Last fall, Florida’s citizens voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years.

In the late 1800s, activists began calling for a minimum wage to ensure that all workers could live off their incomes. But it wasn’t established until 1938, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act. It set the minimum wage at 25 cents per hour, established a maximum workweek of 44 hours, and more.

In 2019, about 1.2 million workers were paid at or below the federal minimum wage. (Tipped workers, like waitstaff, have a lower minimum wage of $2.13 per hour.) None of those workers earned a living wage, which means they could not afford their basic needs like food or housing. Workers’ rights advocates are fighting to increase it to a living wage, which in 2020 is $12.60 an hour for a person supporting a family of four. Opponents argue that the increase in costs to pay workers might cause some businesses to close or raise prices.

As of press time, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 was part of President Biden’s Covid-19 relief bill. If passed, the country might get a raise like Florida’s.

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Answer the questions using the charts and graphs above. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

Which state has the highest minimum wage?

A. Washington

B. Virginia

C. Utah

D. Texas

During which decade did the federal minimum wage see the greatest increase?

A. 1940s

B. 1970s

C. 1990s

D. 2000s

What percent of minimum wage workers are over the age of 34?

A. 11%

B. 18%

C. 31%

D. 56%

What percent of states have a minimum wage greater than the federal minimum wage?

A. 26%

B. 44%

C. 58%

D. 71%

In which year did the federal minimum wage first surpass $1?

A. 1945

B. 1961

C. 1988

D. 2002

Which occupation in the graph accounted for about 24,000 minimum wage jobs in 2019?

A. Construction & Maintenance

B. Management & Professional

C. Sales

D. Food Service

In 2019, about how many minimum wage workers in the U.S. were under 20?

About how much money did a minimum-wage worker make working 35 hours per week in 1985?

If the federal minimum wage is increased to $15 in 2021, what would the percent change be from the current minimum wage?

Poll your class on whether they support a $15 minimum wage. (See below for a poll template.) Then make a circle graph of the results.

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