The Great Depression was the greatest economic disaster in America. It began with the crash of the stock market on ‘Black Tuesday’ in 1929, and by the early 1930’s, it was in full swing. The Grapes of Wrath, written by Nobel Prize winning author John Steinbeck, painted a fictional story of lives that were all too real for people who lived the tale that Steinbeck recreated through the Joad family’s desperate attempt to survive. The ‘grapes’ of prosperity, that is the work and prosperity the family hoped to find when they reached the grape orchards in California, became the ‘Grapes of Wrath’, by the time they reached their destination. Economic strife, hardship and the societal turmoil of a frustrated generation, paved the way for a New Day, when Eisenhower moved to enact ‘New Deal’ legislation that provided economic stability for the banks, and welfare programs for the poor, social security for the aged and sick, and a brand new minimum wage: http://www.fdrheritage.org/new_deal.htm
The first minimum wage started out at a whopping $.25 an hour in 1938, was $1.60 per hour in 1968 (I remember those years), and finally, reached $5.15 an hour in 1997. The wage increases came in minute increments, while the runaway economy raced out of control; with inflation consuming the wages of families, to the point of totally eliminating what was once called ‘disposable income’. Every penny and dollar of the working poor was going to basic minimum, and often substandard survival.
Until now, when a substantial increase of the minimum wage is on our doorsteps.
The U.S. minimum wage due to be increased in 13 states on January 1st. 2014:
The U.S. minimum wage history:
How will this affect the economy? One can only wait to see.