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Minimum Wage Around the World

At both the state and federal levels, campaigns to raise the minimum wage are gaining momentum. Last month, congressional democrats proposed a new bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020. And, the Fight for $15 movement has been heating up since it began in November of 2012. In more than 200 towns and cities, April 15, 2015 was marked by the largest protests by low-wage workers in the nation's history. But where does all of this leave the U.S., in comparison to other countries?

At both the state and federal levels, campaigns to raise the minimum wage are gaining momentum. Last month, congressional democrats proposed a new bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020. And, the Fight for $15 movement has been heating up since it began in November of 2012. In more than 200 towns and cities, April 15, 2015 was marked by the largest protests by low-wage workers in the nation’s history. But where does all of this leave the U.S., in comparison to other countries?

Fight for $15

(Photo Credit: The All-Nite Images/Flickr)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international policy group that tracks and analyzes over 30 countries, recently released a chart that explores the state of minimum wage around the world. Their research analyzed the after-tax value of each hourly minimum wage, and converted those figures into U.S. dollars, in the OECD countries that have established a minimum wage.

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minimum wage around the world

Australia and Luxemburg take the top seat, with wages over $9 each. Mexico is at the bottom of the list, with a minimum wage under $2.

The U.S. is in 11th place. Our federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour – which converts to $6.26 after taxes.

But, the story changes when the rates around the U.S. are broken down by state. D.C. tops the list with a minimum wage of $9.05 (they would be #3 on the international list), and Georgia and Wyoming are at the bottom with a $5.15 wage (they’d be ranked #15).

So many issues related to working conditions in the U.S. are front-burner topics these days. Work-life balance, the gender wage gap … but the minimum wage debate feels like a solid area through which to tackle some of our problems. There was a time in this country when “low-wage jobs” afforded a fairly comfortable lifestyle, but these days most people understand that it’s almost impossible to even get by on these wages, much less thrive. If we want to start to shift the balance and improve the quality of life for Americans in a real way, moving toward a living wage could be the right place to start.

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