Chart: minimum wage in cost-of-living-adjusted dollars

There has been a lot of talk late­ly about the min­i­mum wage and how it ought to be raised. It has been claimed that min­i­mum wage work­ers are mak­ing less now than ever and that the nation is in a crit­i­cal race to the bot­tom where work­ers on the low end of the spec­trum are get­ting squeezed hard­er and harder.

This rais­es the ques­tion of the his­tor­i­cal min­i­mum wage in the Unit­ed States. Is it real­ly low­er now than it ever has been? Did Amer­i­ca once have a min­i­mum wage that ele­vat­ed work­ers from poverty?