Same Minimum Wage, 12 Years Later

Brittany Enn
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There is a major debate in the US regarding the federal minimum wage. Some say we should keep it the same as it is not meant to be a living wage. Others say everyone deserves to afford to live without being impoverished. Find out here how the value of a dollar has changed since 2009.

The minimum wage was increased in 2009 to $7.25/hour. At the time, this wasn't big money, but it was big enough to help some of us to make a liveable wage. Since then we have seen inflation rise because that only happens with minimum wage increases, right? Actually, no. Here's the problem with that theory. The U.S. federal minimum wage never increased again. Yet still, inflation continued and is continuing to this day in 2021.

We can't blame a minimum wage increase on 12 years of rising prices, and we have to recognize that inflation happens and is a part of life. Let's look at some other areas where we've seen alarming changes in price tags, and see how inflation is not easily calculable based on any one formula.


In 2009, according to, rent sat at around $808 a month for an average small apartment. According to the same source, today's rent for the same size living arrangement costs $1,104. Even more disturbing is that only 78.1% of Americans are able to make on-time monthly rent payments.


If you were to put down about $10,000 on a vehicle in 2009, today you would need $10,737.71 for that same amount of buying power! The average new car cost in 2009 was $28,160 back then, or about $38,723 today!


Regardless of what may or may not have been necessary for us in 2009, it's impossible to get a job today without a phone. While we may have been paying $48.99 in 2009, today you're looking at an average of $71 per person in mobile phone costs! Other every day uses like water and electricity are also steadily increasing. In 2009, you'd find an average water bill around $59 and electricity around $105. Today you're looking at more in the range of $70.93 for water and $117.65 for electricity. Ouch!


According to, groceries have seen an alarming increase. By factoring in an average shopping basket plus one gallon of gas, we see a change from $59.21 in 2009 all the way up to $70.62 in 2021.


Lastly, let's look at the value of a dollar. A U.S. Dollar in 2009 would cost you an extra $0.27 for each one today. Raising the federal minimum wage to even a mere $9.21 hourly would be the same pay we received a decade ago, but with the factored in comparison to the cost of living adjustments for inflation based solely on the value of a dollar.

What do you think? Should the United States federal minimum wage be raised?

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