What the US gets wrong about the minimum wage

The American federal minimum wage hasn’t gone up in a decade. That’s the longest wait since the US first set a minimum wage in 1938. Today, Congress is debating whether they should raise it again. But the fact that Congress has to debate it at all is … kind of weird.

In the US, unlike in other developed countries, the minimum wage is a political issue. That means it gets raised irregularly and unpredictably. And that causes a bunch of problems for American workers and businesses.

Every other developed country with a minimum wage has some sort of commission or formula to determine what the rate should be. Some countries consult with business leaders and union representatives, and nearly all of them involve economic experts. And they review it every year or two. In the US, though, it’s in the hands of politicians.

And that goes about as well as you’d expect.

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