“Back to the Future Part II” predicted hoverboards, flying cars, and self-tying shoes by 2015. Today, we’re a little bit closer to producing (granted, less awesome) versions of that tech. But we’re not quite where Doc Brown and Marty McFly predicted we would be.
And while they never discussed pay stubs, we wonder what Doc and Marty would have predicted about the future of the minimum wage.
After all, many of today’s employees would say that minimum wage falls into the same category as flying cars. We’ve come so far, and yet, for the average worker, not much has changed.
When they landed in 2015, would Doc and Marty have believed that the federal minimum wage increased just 14 cents in 25 years? How would the 1955 versions of those characters have reacted to an increase of just 19 cents over 50 years?
OK, those numbers are adjusted for inflation and dramatic effect. In 1955, the minimum wage was 75 cents. It rose to $3.35 by 1989. Today, those wages equate to $7.06 and $7.11, respectively—just pennies less than the $7.25 federal minimum wage.
But here’s the difference: The median home value in the U.S. in the 1950s was right around $7,000. That’s around $70,000 in today’s money. In 1989, that rose over $90,000, or $180,000 in 2020.
In May 2019, the median home price skyrocketed well over $300,000. Today, the average home costs more than three times as much as it did in 1955. But employee wages haven’t kept up.
While several states have taken baby steps towards a higher minimum wage, the federal minimum wage hasn’t seen an increase in more than 10 years. That’s the longest American workers have gone without a federal increase since the minimum wage was first introduced in 1938.
Raising the minimum wage has been a hot topic for the past several years. In reality, the majority of both employees (72%) and employers (70%) support an increase, according to the QuickBooks State of Time Tracking report. Only 9% of employers say they don’t support a federal increase, believing business owners should decide an employee’s pay.
Meanwhile, the majority of employees think increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour is reasonable. But the majority of employers believe that $10 per hour is enough. In either case, employers agree that raising the minimum wage can:
1. Increase employee happiness
Employers believe that increasing the minimum wage would increase employee morale, productivity, and happiness at work. The result is loyal, dedicated employees who serve as brand ambassadors for the business.
2. Supplement the cost of living
Often, minimum-wage workers must take on two or even three jobs to make ends meet. When that happens, they show up to work exhausted and burned out. An increased minimum wage could allow those employees the luxury of putting their time and energy towards just one job.
3. Support economic growth
Employers agree that raising the minimum wage would reflect the economic growth of the last decade. Not only that, but it stands to reason that raising the minimum wage would stimulate the economy. When workers make more money, they have more money to invest in their communities.
Beyond that, employers say an increased minimum wage would make hiring easier and help employees pay off student debt. With any luck, we’ll see a higher minimum wage before we see flying cars—at least, within the next few years. As Doc would say, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”