Minimum wage is the lowest salary or payment in exchange for work that employers can legally compensate their workers – the price floor below which workers may not sell their labor.
Minimum wages were first called for to stop the exploitation of workers in sweatshops and then came to be seen as a way to help lower-income families. Most countries had introduced minimum wage legislation by the end of the 20th century.
Opponents of minimum wage believe that it increases poverty, increases unemployment because low-wage workers will be unable to find work, and damages businesses because the wage requirements will cause businesses to raise prices of their product and service to accommodate labor costs.
Supporters of minimum wage argue the opposite, saying that it increases the standard of living for workers, reduces poverty, reduces inequality, and boosts employee morale.
The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development developed a list of each country's minimum wages. The ten countries with the highest minimum wages (in USD) are:
- Luxembourg ($13.78)
- Australia ($12.14)
- France ($11.66)
- New Zealand ($11.20)
- Germany ($10.87)
- Netherlands ($10.44)
- Belgium ($10.38)
- United Kingdom ($10.34)
- Ireland ($9.62)
- Canada ($9.52)
Luxembourg has the highest minimum wage in the world of $13.78 per hour. The minimum wage rises 20% for individuals classed as skilled workers (must be 18 or older) and decreases by 20-25% for individuals classed as adolescent workers (17-18 years old). Salaries, wages, and minimum wage are all adjusted in line with the evolution of Luxembourg's cost; therefore, if the consumer price index falls by a certain percentage, salaries are adjusted by the same percentage.
The minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour, the 12th highest in the world. However, the states have the power to increase the federal minimum wage as 29 of them did. Furthermore, many states have enacted or proposed legislation to gradually increase the minimum wage by increments over the next several years to reach a specific wage. Therefore, the minimum wage in each state varies. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour, a minimum wage that states have also enacted their own legislation.