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These two charts show how much minimum wage workers have fallen behind

February 21, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 47.4%. 2 min read.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 18: An activist wears a "Fight For $15" T-shirt during a news conference prior to a vote on the Raise the Wage Act July 18, 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. The legislation would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

With Congress already battling over hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour, President Joe Biden likely raised a few eyebrows when he recently said that the federal minimum wage would actually be $20 if it were indexed to inflation.

(CNN)With Congress already battling over hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour, President Joe Biden likely raised a few eyebrows when he recently said that the federal minimum wage would actually be $20 if it were indexed to inflation.

While the President bungled two different statistics at a CNN town hall last week, the thrust of what he said is accurate: The minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7. 25 an hour since 2009, has fallen far behind in terms of both inflation and productivity.

Increasing the federal minimum wage is once again in play, with Biden and key congressional Democrats pushing to raise it in stages to the $15 target by 2025.

Though both Republican and Democratic presidents have signed legislation increasing the federal minimum wage since it was created in 1938, the issue has become a partisan lightning rod since unions began pushing almost a decade ago for a jump to $15.

The federal minimum wage has not kept up

It looked at what the federal minimum wage would be if it kept up with productivity growth.

For the first three decades after the minimum wage was established in 1938, it roughly kept pace with average wage and with productivity growth, rising from 25 cents at the outset to $1. 60 in 1968.

"No one thought we were crazy in the '40s, '50s and '60s when we were having the minimum wage rise in step with productivity," Baker said, noting the increases were bipartisan.

Inflation has also been eating away at the buying power of the federal minimum wage for the last few decades.

That means minimum wage workers are getting poorer over time, said Josh Bivens, director of research at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

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