A country's minimum wage is the lowest amount of money that employers in that country are legally allowed to pay their workers for a given unit of work. Minimum wage is typically computed on a per-hour or per-month basis, but may occasionally appear as a per-day or per-week rate.
Minimum wages were first utilized to address the exploitation of workers in sweatshops and then came to be seen as a way to prevent exploitation and help lower-income families everywhere. Most countries had introduced minimum wage legislation by the end of the 20th century.
Opponents of minimum wage claim that the higher labor costs will increase inflation and force businesses to raise prices (which reduces the purchasing power of the consumer) to make ends meet and/or lay off workers they can no longer afford to pay, which leads to higher unemployment and more poverty.
Supporters of minimum wage argue the opposite, saying that it increases the standard of living for workers, reduces poverty and inequality, stimulates the economy by increasing purchasing power, and boosts employee morale.
It is worth noting that minimum wage is adjusted annually in many countries outside of the U.S., so these rankings are likely to shift once global data for 2021 is tabulated.
The minimum wage for non-tipped workers in the United States remains $7.25 per hour in 2020—the 17th highest in the world, but barely half that of the global leader, Australia. However, individual states have the power to increase the federal minimum wage, and 29 of them have done so. 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. Because of efforts such as these, the minimum wage in each state varies. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour, but again, many states have enacted their own legislation to raise that minimum.
Luxembourg is the country with the highest minimum wage in the world.
Mexico is the country with the lowest minimum wage in the world.