Profile America — Monday, January 5th. The business world was confronted with a new idea on this date in 1914.

Henry Ford announced that he would reduce the workday from nine to eight hours and pay his factory assembly line workers a minimum wage of $5 a day, which is nearly $119 in current dollars.

The idea eventually gained general acceptance, and in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a federally mandated minimum wage of 25 cents an hour.

Currently, the hourly minimum wage is $7.25, although 23 states and the District of Columbia have rates higher than the federal standard.

There are nearly 76 million hourly workers in the U.S., 3.3 million of them paid at or below the minimum wage.

Households in the bottom 20 percent of income earn no more than $20,900 per year.




Initial minimum wage:

Current minimum wage:

Hourly workers:

State data:

Household income quintiles/All Races:

Inflation adjustment:

Ford firsts:


Profile America is in its 18th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Profile America is produced by the Center for New Media and Promotions of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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