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Family Income, 1936 and 1962; Median Family Income; Federal Minimum Wage, 1938-97

By Fifths 1936 1962
Top 20 % 51.7% 45.5%
Next 20% 20.9% 22.7%
Middle 20% 14.1% 16.3%
Lower 20% 9.2% 10.9%
Bottom 20% 4.1% 4.6%

Median Family Income (1984 dollars)

Year $

1959 5,660
1969 9,586
1979 19,917

Federal Minimum Wage Rates, 1938-1997*

1938 $0.25 1975 $2.10
1939 $0.30 1976 $2.30
1945 $0.40 1978 $2.65
1950 $0.75 1979 $2.90
1956 $1.00 1980 $3.10
1961 $1.15 1981 $3.10
1963 $1.25 1990 $3.80
1967 $1.40 1991 $4.25
1968 $1.60 1996 $4.75
1974 $2.00 1997 $5.15

*The 1938 covered employees involved interstate commerce or producing goods for interstate commerce. In 1961, coverage was extended to employees large retail and service businesses as well as to transit, construction, and gas station employees. In 1966, coverage was again extended, this time to state and local government employees, farms, restaurants and hotels, etc. In 1997, a sub minimum wage of $4.25 a hour was created for employees under 20 years of age for the first 90 days of employment with an employer, thus creating discrimination based on age. See the U.S. Department of Labor website on Minimum Wage.

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