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Minimum Wage
and the

Woman Worker




0

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
James P. Mitchell, Secretary
W O M E N ' S BUREAU
Mrs. Alice K. Leopold, Director
PAMPHLET EIGHT

•

JANUARY

1960

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington 25. D.C. - Price 15 cents




FOREWORD
State minimum-wage laws are of great importance to large groups
of women workers because the purpose of these laws is to provide at
least a living wage—a wage that is sufficient to maintain a minimum
standard of living. Establishment of minimum-wage levels raises
the purchasing power of the lowest paid workers and tends to improve their dignity and pride, as well as their health and efficiency.
These workers are assets to the community in which they live, and
to the firms for which they work.
This booklet—Minimum Wage and the Woman Worker—tells
briefly and in plain language how and why State minimum-wage
laws came about, how they operate, and of their impact on the
worker, the employer, and the community.
It covers a 49-year span of activity in this field—tracing the inception and growth of these laws through a series of separate time
periods which mark significant changes in attitudes, and in the
amount and kind of State minimum-wage activity.
It provides answers to questions from women's organizations,
civic groups, unions, and others interested in study and action programs designed to improve working conditions of women in their
own States.
This edition of Minimum Wage and the Woman Worker (issued
as Women's Bureau Pamphlet 8) brings up to 'date previous similar
reports published earlier by the U.S. Department of Labor's
Women's Bureau. It includes information on State minimum-wage
activity through 1959 (amendments to existing laws as well as new
laws), and was prepared by Regina M. Neitzey, under the direction
of Alice A. Morrison, Chief of the Bureau's Division of Women's
Labor Law and Civil and Political Status.




ALICE K . LEOPOLD,

Assistant to the Secretary of Labor
and Director, Women's Bureau.




CONTENTS
Page

State minimum-wage situation January 1, 1960
.
—
New trends in State minimum-wage legislation
What is a legal minimum wage?
Is there a legal minimum for your job?
.
Why do we have minimum-wage laws?
How does a State minimum wage help the worker?
How does a State minimum wage help the employer?..
How does a State minimum wage help the community?
Effects of a minimum wage
—
How do new State laws and rates come about?
How are minimum-wage rates set?
Who are members of State wage boards?
How does a wage board go about setting the rate?
The State labor commissioner acts
What is the standard for setting a State minimum wage?
How do we know when wages are substandard?
Enforcing the State minimum rate
What are some basic State minimum rates?
A brief history of State minimum-wage laws
United States Department of Labor's part in promoting minimum wage
Women's Bureau publications
Agencies to consult and inform of your interest in minimum wage




1
1
2
2
3
4
5
6
6
8
9
9
10
10
10
11
11
12
13
15
16
16

Coverage of State Minimum- Wage Laws, January 1, 1960

Women,Minors**

Alaska [
Hawaii [

Dist. of Col. V////A
Puerto Rico [




• In North Carolina the law applies to persons lfi to OS years of age; in Wyoming, to persons 18 years of age and over.
T h e law applies only to females in Arkansas, Louisiana. Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

MINIMUM WAGE AND THE
WOMAN WORKER
State Minimum-Wage Situation January 1,1960
The State minimum-wage roster, at the beginning of 1960, included 33 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The
latest State to pass such a law was North Carolina in 1959. The
new law in North Carolina covers men and women between the ages
of 16 and 65 years and sets a statutory rate of 75 cents an hour.
In 1959, also, two minimum-wage States, Maine and Washington,
passed new laws extending coverage to men as well as women and
establishing a statutory rate of $1 an hour. In addition, the Washington law requires the payment of one and one-half times the employee's regular rate for hours over 40 a week. The basic hourly
rate in Alaska was increased from $1.25 to $1.50; in Vermont, from
75 cents to $1; and in New Hampshire, from 85 cents to $1. A
Connecticut amendment extended the minimum of $1 an hour to
employees of hotels, restaurants, inns, and cabins—previously subject to a 75-cent statutory minimum; and Massachusetts amended
its law by raising to $1 an hour the minimum below which no wage
board may make recommendations.
Over half of the 154 wage orders in effect as of January 1, 1960,
had basic hourly rates equal to or higher than the $1 minimum set
by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act; of the 17 jurisdictions
with rates set by statute, 11 had rates equal to or higher than the
Federal minimum. (See page 13.)
New Trends in State Minimum-Wage Legislation
A new development in State minimum-wage legislation during
recent years has been the increasing establishment of overtime pay
for work beyond the customary workweek. Three States with statutory-rate laws—Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington—require the payment of 1 xh times the employee's regular rate for hours worked over
40 a week. In addition, overtime provisions have been established
in two-thirds of the industry and occupation wage orders currently
in effect. In most such orders, the overtime rate is based on the
employee's regular rate, but in some orders it is based on the
minimum rate.




1

2

MINIMUM WAGE

Another new development in the State minimum-wage field is the
establishment of a minimum rate in the statute itself. Of the 35
jurisdictions with minimum-wage laws, almost half (17) set a minimum hourly rate by statute; 7 of these also provide for the establishment of occupation or industry rates based on recommendations
of wage boards.
A noteworthy trend in this field has been the extension of coverage to men—an action first taken by Connecticut in 1939. In the
past 5 years, five States which enacted minimum-wage laws for the
first time (Idaho, New Mexico, North Carolina, Vermont, and Wyoming), also established general coverage of men as well as women.
At the close of 1959, minimum-wage laws with general worker coverage were in effect in 14 States and Puerto Rico. However, in all
States, major attention continued to be directed to the low-wage
trade and service occupations, which employ large numbers of
women.
What Is a Legal Minimum Wage?
It is a basic wage determined by law. It sets a floor to wages but
it does not fix the wage rate to be paid. After a minimum wage is
established, any employer in the industries to which the law applies
may pay his workers any wage that may be established by collective bargaining agreement or by the employer individually—provided
it is not less than the legal wage.
Is There a Legal Minimum for Your Job?
Minimum-wage laws have been enacted both by States and by
the Federal Government.
Intrastate industries
Is your job concerned with a local industry, that is, a trade or
service industry or an industry producing goods for distribution only
within your State? Then—if you are a woman or a minor working
in any 1 of 33 States or in the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico,
but not on a farm or in household service—the chances are that your
job has a State minimum-wage rate. If you are a man the law may
also apply to you if you are working in any of 14 States or Puerto
Rico. Workers in farm occupations and household service are not
covered in most States.
The chances that your job has a minimum rate under a State law
are best if the job is in a local service trade—in a store, laundry, dry


WOMAN WORKER

3

cleaning plant, beauty shop, hotel, or restaurant—or if it is a clerical
job, or in a cannery.
Interstate industries
Is your job concerned with commerce between the States, or between this country and other countries, or with the production of
goods for interstate or foreign commerce? If so, in any State where
you work, the Fair Labor Standards Act, commonly called the Federal wage and hour law, is likely to cover your job. The minimum
rate of pay required by this Federal law is $1 an hour for all workers—men, women, and minors who are in covered employment.
There is, also, a provision that requires payment of at least IV2 times
the worker's regular rate for all work in excess of 40 hours a week.
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act is enforced by the Wage and
Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor, Washington, D.C., through its regional offices located throughout the
country.
Why Do We Have Minimum-Wage Laws?
The objective
The purpose of minimum-wage laws is to provide all covered
workers with at least a living wage, that is, a wage sufficient to
maintain a minimum standard of living.
The effect of such a law is to require a small proportion of employers—those who pay substandard wages—to meet the minimum
standards that their competitors and neighboring firms have
adopted voluntarily.
One reason for such laws is that not all workers have the advantages of the collective bargaining process used by organized labor
groups and management. Unorganized workers, according to the
United States Supreme Court, "are in an unequal position with respect to bargaining power and are thus relatively defenseless against
the denial of a living wage." This makes it possible for numbers of
workers to be hired at rates below those paid to other workers
doing the same kind of work in other communities, and even in the
same community. Employers who pay unreasonably low wages
thereby compete unfairly with other employers.
Low wage rates mean low living standards. A minimum wage
raises the purchasing power of the lowest paid workers and tends to
improve their dignity and pride, as well as their health and efficiency. These workers are assets to the community in which they
live, and to the firms for which they work.



4

MINIMUM WAGE

Congress stated that its purpose in enacting the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 was to do away as quickly as possible with working conditions harmful to the health, efficiency, and well-being of
the workers. Such conditions, it also said, are an unfair method of
competition. They lead to labor disputes; they interfere with the
orderly marketing of goods; they constitute an unfair method of
competition in commerce. The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act
was enacted "through the exercise by Congress of its power (under
the Constitution) to regulate commerce among the several States
and with foreign countries. . . ."
State legislatures, in enacting minimum-wage laws, attack the
problem directly: They exercise the power of the State to protect
the general welfare, and the health, efficiency, and well-being of
workers.
The problem
We hear every day about the high average wages paid in the
United States. In quoting averages, however, it must be remembered that an average is based on the earnings of individuals receiving more than the average, as well as those receiving less. For example, although the earned average (median) income of workers in
1957 (including those who worked full time and those who worked
part time) was $2,858, this average reflected individual's earnings
ranging all the way from less than $500 to more than $25,000.
Thus, the worker whose earnings are below the average is the one
who is in need of assistance and who will benefit from minimumwage legislation.
According to the latest available data, full-time year-round wage
and salary workers in 1957 averaged $4,174; men averaged $4,713
and women, $3,008. Women workers employed full time in retail
trade had a median annual income of $2,380; those in personal services, $1,553. Reduced to a weekly basis, this means that in 1957
women employed on a full-time year-round basis received around
$46 a week in retail trade; and roughly $30 in personal services.
Again, these averages include women receiving much more per week,
as well as those receiving much less.
How Does a State Minimum Wage Help the Worker?
It sets a floor to wages
Your legal minimum wage is a form of insurance.
point below which your wage rate must not fall.



It sets the

WOMAN WORKER

5

A weekly as well as an hourly minimum may be guaranteed you.
This is important when industry conditions or inadequate management do not regularly provide a full workweek.
When you are required to work more than a specified number of
hours, some States provide for an overtime rate of pay for the excess
hours.
In some States, your minimum-wage rate is also protected by provisions such as these:
If you work in a restaurant, some State laws say that tips
must not be counted as part of the minimum wage.
No deductions from your pay are allowed in some States, except as specified in the law.
Some State laws provide that you be paid for a specified
number of hours if you are required to report, even though no
work is provided; or at a minimum rate for all "waiting time"
when machinery has broken down or work is interrupted for
other reasons beyond your control.
If your wage is below the State minimum, your employer
may be violating the law without realizing it. In any case,
your State Department of Labor, if notified, will require compliance with the law. The State Labor Department will help
you collect, or will collect for you, any wages due you under the
law.
It promotes improved working conditions
Good working conditions exist nowadays in the majority of firms.
In order to insure that all firms follow acceptable industry practices,
minimum-wage orders often carry provisions that:
Assure you of a clean place in which to work, clean restrooms,
good light and ventilation, seats at work, availability of firstaid supplies.
Assure you of reasonable meal periods. Some orders also
assure you of rest periods.
Require the employer to pay for uniforms, safety clothing,
and the laundering of uniforms.
Assure you of premium pay for split shifts and protect you
against an excessive spread of hours.
How Does a State Minimum Wage Help the Employer?
It helps stabilize an industry. When a State minimum rate goes
into effect, many employers in the affected industries are already
paying the minimum rate or a higher rate to their employees.
5:wj'>7 OH —
-O 2



6

MINIMUM WAGE

Establishment of a legal minimum wage safeguards these employers
from unfair competition, for labor and for profit, with other employers who would not voluntarily pay such wages.
It helps increase workers' efficiency and productivity. The largest
share of the income of low-income groups is spent on food. A wage
increase for them chiefly means money for more wholesome food,
and therefore improved health, alertness, and efficiency on the job.
Higher wages also tend to improve morale and spur the worker to
greater effort.
It encourages greater management efficiency. The establishment
of a minimum wage encourages employers to improve plant operations as a means of offsetting higher wage costs. By overhauling
his equipment, improving his production and sales methods, or redistributing the workload, the employer without curtailing employment
may increase the quantity and quality of his production. By giving
more attention to employee training, installing a system of work
incentives, and building up a trained supervisory staff, he may
increase workers' efficiency, reduce absenteeism and turnover, and
improve his business generally.
How Does a State Minimum Wage Help the Community?
The United States Supreme Court, upholding State minimumwage legislation in 1937, stated:
The exploitation of a class of workers who are in an unequal
position with respect to bargaining power and are thus relatively
defenseless against the denial of a living wage is not only detrimental to their health and well-being but casts a direct burden
for their support upon the community. . . . The community
is not bound to provide what is in effect a subsidy for unconscionable employers.
In addition to being freed from the necessity of subsidizing employers, communities—and the country as a whole—are also helped
positively. Minimum wages speed up spending for consumer goods.
They stimulate business. During a business recession, minimum
rates—levels below which wages are not allowed to go—help prevent
a downward spiral of wages.
Effects of a Minimum Wage
The proposal of a minimum wage has often led to the prediction
of dire consequences: "Business will be ruined!" "People will lose
their jobs!" In practice, these worries have proved needless.




WOMAN WORKER

7

Effect on the economy
Actually the wage and price levels of the great bulk of firms remain
undisturbed. The effect of a legal minimum wage is said to be to
"tidy up the ragged lower edge of the wage structure." How do the
minority of employers who must meet higher labor costs make the
adjustments?
More efficient production is the most common course taken. As
one economist has said, it was mainly the effects of minimum-wage
legislation which caused economists to realize that higher wages
need not mean higher costs and prices, but might mean increased
efficiency instead.
Effect on employment
At the time a minimum wage is established by law, either State
or Federal, there are usually predictions that the results will be
disastrous to business, ruining employers in low-paying industries,
closing plants, or causing many employees to lose their jobs. Experience has shown that these effects generally do not take place.
A series of studies by the United States Department of Labor on
the long-term effects of increasing the Federal minimum wage show
that the demand for the product has a greater effect on employment
than wage rates have. With respect to the 1949 amendment, which
raised the minimum rate from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour, the
Department reported that the increase "had only minor effects on
employment." With respect to the more recent amendment, which
increased the Federal minimum wage from 75 cents to $1 an hour
in 1956, the Department reported that "most employers who attributed the discharge of workers to the higher minimum indicated that
[later] replacements were hired."
Effect on individual workers
Minimum-wage laws, some people claim, will increase the number
of persons considered "unemployable"—those who, because of a
handicap due to an accident, a physical or mental defect, find it
difficult to get and hold jobs. Before the legal minimum became
effective these people could be paid at lower rates. Will employers
continue to use them after establishment of a minimum wage?
This claim has no foundation, since under minimum-wage laws,
both State and Federal, a lower rate than the minimum may be paid
to handicapped workers whose handicap limits their ability to produce as efficiently as other workers. On the other hand, the President's Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped



8

MINIMUM WAGE

and cooperating industrialists have shown that most handicapped
workers placed in the right job can perform satisfactorily.
How Do New State Laws and Rates Come About?
The type of meeting where people gather freely for discussion and
action toward the common good is a basic American institution.
Such gatherings began in the small, scattered meeting houses of the
1600's and have multiplied until now they take place everywhere
in schools, churches and clubrooms, as well as in city auditoriums.
Typical of such group activity are the steps which led to the improvement of the minimum-wage law and wage-board rates in one
State:
Men and women, members of a civic organization, met to talk
things over, to decide, and act.
This group banded together with other organizations aware
of the need for minimum-wage action.
They enlisted the help of groups that, without having focused
on minimum wages in particular, were also working for the
common welfare.
They enlisted the help of civic-minded individuals—leaders in
the community. These included people who could help on
technical matters: lawyers, economists, legislators, publicrelations counselors, Government officials.
They secured the support of labor unions.
They secured the support—essential to success—of farsighted
employers and employer groups who already were voluntarily
maintaining good standards.
They held public meetings and invited public officials and
leaders from labor and industry to speak.
They obtained the cooperation of YWCA members in keeping records of living expenses. They collected wage information from friendly employers. They studied reports of living
expenses and wages.
They obtained technical information and advice from their
State labor department and from the U.S. Department of Labor.
They requested the State labor commissioner to make a survey of the hours of work and earnings of men and women in
the State.
They gave the results of the survey wide publicity.
They contacted members of the legislature and testified at
hearings.
They circulated petitions for the establishment of new wage
boards. They supported the labor commissioner's efforts in
setting up these boards.




WOMAN WORKER

9

They indicated to the labor commissioner their willingness to
testify at wage-board hearings, or, on his request, to serve as
members of such boards.
Basically it is MEN AND WOMEN WORKING TOGETHERin local and national clubs, in the churches, in labor unions, in the
communities—who are responsible for the adoption of minimumwage laws.
How Are Minimum-Wage Rates Set?
There are various ways of setting a- minimum-wage rate. The
legislature in enacting a State minimum-wage law does not necessarily establish a minimum-wage rate.
In 10 States, the legislature has set the rate, called therefore a
"statutory rate." In 6 other States and Puerto Rico, the legislature has set a flat statutory rate and the labor commissioner is
authorized to set wage-board-recommended rates for individual
industries or occupations. In 17 States and the District of Columbia, the commissioner of labor or other authorized agent sets the
rate recommended by a wage board, usually for one industry or
group of occupations at a time.
Statutory rates have the advantage of giving immediate and widespread protection. A statutory minimum wage after the law has
been passed by the legislature, generally becomes effective at time
of passage of the law or soon thereafter. The minimum rate can
be changed by further legislative action, and also under some laws
by wage-board action.
Wage-board rates are "tailor-made" to fit the particular industry
or occupation. Since wage boards may be appointed at any time,
the rates set can be adjusted at need, say to correct substandard
conditions that have developed in one industry, or to meet a general
rise in the cost of living.
Laws which combine statutory with wage-board rates are an
important forward step. The statutory rate gives immediate protection to jobs for which no wage-board rate has been set, including
miscellaneous jobs difficult to group for wage-board action. Wage
boards can as needed set higher rates than the statutory rate for
individual occupations or industries.
Who Are Members of State Wage Boards?
Wage-board members are men and women—usually nine—appointed by the State labor commissioner to recommend a minimumwage rate and related standards for a specific industry or occupation.



10

MINIMUM WAGE

Wage boards are composed of representatives of employers and
workers in equal numbers, and of representatives of the public. The
labor and industry representatives are appointed from nominations
submitted by their groups. A public member is usually chairman.
How Does a Wage Board Go About Setting the Rate?
The board reviews and considers carefully the workers' cost of
living, and wage and working conditions in the industry. It studies
reports prepared by the State labor commissioner and his staff.
Board members themselves may bring in reports from other sources,
such as State, Federal, and private research agencies, industry associations, and union research departments.
The board holds hearings at which Government officials, economists, employers, union officials, workers themselves, and any private citizen may be called on to testify.
When the board has considered all the facts and comes to an
agreement, it makes a report to the State labor commissioner. It
recommends the basic minimum wage. To safeguard the minimum,
it often recommends various other provisions, for example, that a
premium must be paid for working a split shift, that the cost of uniforms must be borne by the employer, or that deductions for meals
or lodging may not exceed a certain sum. It may recommend various
special rates, such as part-time, overtime, and reporting-time rates,
a learner rate, or a minimum daily guaranteed wage.
The State Labor Commissioner Acts
The State labor commissioner may accept or reject the wage
board's recommendations. He cannot change them. Under most
laws he may, however, add regulations for making the provisions
effective.
If he accepts the board's recommendations, he holds hearings to
learn what the public and the interested parties think about the
proposed rate. Anyone interested in the recommendations may
testify.
If the commissioner is still in agreement with the board's recommendations, he then issues a wage order based on the recommendations, and on a specified date the order goes into effect.
What Is the Standard for Setting a State Minimum Wage?
In States that provide for wage boards, the laws themselves set
the standards the wage board must take into account in recommending the rate:



WOMAN WORKER

11

Almost all the laws say the worker's cost of living must be
taken into account.
In about half the laws, the cost of living is the only standard.
Nearly all of the other State laws say two more things must
be considered: (1) the value of the worker's services; (2) the
wages paid by employers who are voluntarily maintaining minimum fair wage standards.
Only one State law specifically says that, in addition, what
the industry (not an individual employer) can afford to pay
must be taken into account.
How Do We Know When Wages Are Substandard?
State minimum-wage laws define substandard wages as wages
inadequate to meet the minimum cost of living necessary for health.
The cost of living
We know what is happening to the cost of living in the United
States from monthly reports of the United States Department of
Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Newspapers, magazines, and
radio and television broadcasters comment on the reports.
About a dozen States have prepared a "cost-of-living budget" for
a self-supporting woman worker; two of these budgets are for both
a man and a woman. The budgets list the annual quantity and
quality of goods and services necessary for one person to live healthfully at minimum adequacy levels. When first prepared, the items
composing each budget were priced throughout the State. To keep
their budgets up to date, a few States regularly reprice them; other
States have revised them through use of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.
Wages
State labor departments make surveys of hours of work and earnings. The Women's Bureau has helped plan such surveys.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly reports average hourly
earnings in various manufacturing and nonmanufacturing industries
in selected communities and in the country as a whole.
Substandard wage conditions are sometimes reported by letters
from underpaid workers to their own labor departments and by
reports of welfare agencies.
Enforcing the State Minimum Rate
By posting the rates
As a first step, the enforcing agency—usually the State labor



12

MINIMUM WAGE

department—supplies posters that give the details of the law or the
wage order. These must be posted where all workers can see them.
By inspection of plant payrolls
Most State labor departments have inspectors whose duty it is to
visit places of work and inspect the payrolls to see whether the employer is complying with the law.
Sometimes an employer is unintentionally violating the law; when
the inspector explains the law to him, he complies.
Often employers who have not paid the full amount due the
worker undjer the wage order willingly pay the difference—the "back
wages due"—to their employees when asked by the enforcing agency
to do so. Usually, an employer who does not pay may be sued by
the employee, or the State commissioner of labor may sue for him.
Penalties are usually provided for by the laws, and are applied by
the court in cases of repeated or flagrant violation.
What Are Some Basic State Minimum Rates?
Wage-board rates.
Because minimum wages are geared to the cost of living, which
may change rapidly, there is frequent need to revise wage orders.
Since October 1, 1950, 148 orders in effect as of January 1, 1960,
in 19 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, were revised,
automatically raised by increase of statutory rates, or newly issued.
In the past 9 years, the highest basic hourly rates set by these
wage boards (rates set as weekly rates have been prorated) are as
follows:
Hourly rate

Over $ 1
SI
90 or 95 cents
85-88 cents
80 or 82 cents
75 cents
70 or 73 cents
60-66 cents
Less than 60 cents

Number of—
JurisOrders
dictions

5
73
7
6
10
17
9
6
15

4

14
5
4
6
6
5
5
7

(Four States—Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma—whose laws
provide for rates set by wage boards only, issued no orders during
this period.)



13

WOMAN WORKER

Statutory rates
Where the law provides for statutory rates, the highest current
hourly rates (prorated when a weekly or daily rate was set) are these:
Alaska
Arkansas
Connecticut*
Hawaii
.
Idaho
—
Maine
Massachusetts*
Nevada
New Hampshire*
New Mexico
North Carolina
Puerto Rico*
Rhode Island*
South Dakota
Vermont*
Washington*
Wyoming

.-•_
-

- --

Si.50
.156
1.00
1.00
.75
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
75
.75
1.00
1.00
313
1.00
1.00
75

(1959)
(1915)
(1959)
(1958)
(1955)
(1959)
(1959)
(1957)
(1959)
(1955)
(1960)
(1956)
(1957)
(1945)
(1959)
(1959)
(1955)

' L a w also provides for rates set by wage-board provisions.

A Brief History of State Minimum-Wage Laws
The early period: 1912-23
The first State minimum-wage laws were enacted in the "reform
period" before World War I. Public-spirited, nonwage earner
groups, aroused to the social evil of underpaid women workers, were
chiefly responsible for putting these laws into effect. The National
Consumers League, then and since, has been among those who have
worked hardest for such laws.
By 1923, 15 States and the District of Columbia had minimumwage laws on their books. All these laws were of the "cost-of-living"
type, that is, they said the minimum wage must be high enough to
meet the necessary cost of healthful living. Then, in 1923, the
United States Supreme Court declared the District of Columbia law
unconstitutional on the ground that it abridged the right of a woman
worker to contract freely for her labor.
The unsettled period: 1924-32
No new State minimum-wage laws were enacted between 1924
and 1932. In fact, the minimum-wage laws of many States were
invalidated or repealed, and several other States enforced these laws
only for minors. However, a significant number of States, including



14

MINIMUM WAGE

North Dakota and the west coast States, continued to enforce their
laws for both women and minors. They considered that the 1923
Supreme Court decision applied to the District of Columbia law
only and not to the laws of other States.
Revival and progress: 1933-54
The depression of the 1930's, accompanied by wage-cutting and a
return to substandard working conditions, roused States to minimum-wage action. States enacting new laws tried to meet the
Supreme Court's objection to the cost of living as a basis for a minimum wage by adding a new principle—that of a fair return for
services rendered.
The increase in State interest, however, rather than the new idea
of what a minimum wage should signify, led the Supreme Court in
1937 to reverse a decision made in 1923. In the earlier year the
Court declared the District of Columbia minimum-wage law, one of
the cost-of-living statutes, unconstitutional; in 1937, the Court specifically reversed this position when it held constitutional the Washington State minimum-wage law, another cost-of-living statute.
On the basis of this decision, several States reexamined and put
new life into their laws. In addition, interest in State minimumwage legislation was stimulated by enactment of the Federal Fair
Labor Standards Act in 1938; and other States were encouraged to
put laws on their books. By 1941, 28 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico all had such laws.
During the period 1942-54, no State enacted initial minimumwage legislation but many States strengthened existing laws in
various ways—by establishing or increasing a statutory rate, by
extending coverage to men, or by strengthening the provisions for
administration and enforcement.
Minimum wage at the beginning of 1960
In 1955, Idaho, New Mexico, and Wyoming enacted minimumwage laws for the first time, followed by Vermont in 1957, and by
North Carolina in 1959. In addition to the new laws in these five
States, the majority of the other minimum-wage States strengthened
existing legislation.




15

WOMAN WORKER

The 35 jurisdictions with minimum-wage laws follow:
Alaska1
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut 1
District of Columbia
Hawaii1
Idaho1
Illinois2
KansasKentucky

Louisiana2
Maine1
Massachusetts'
Minnesota
Nevada
New Hampshire1
New Jersey
New Mexico 1
New York1
North Carolina1
North Dakota
Ohio

OklahomaOregon
Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico 1
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Utah
Vermont 1
Washington1
Wisconsin
Wyoming 1

The three types of minimum-wage laws in these jurisdictions,
classified by method of establishing the minimum wage, are:
1. Wage-board laws (18 jurisdictions):
Arizona
California
Colorado
District of Columbia
Illinois-'
Kansas-'

Kentucky
LouisianaMinnesota
New Jersey
New York'
North Dakota

Ohio
OklahomaOregon
Pennsylvania
Utah
Wisconsin

2. Statutory-rate laws only (10 States):
Alaska'
Arkansas
Hawaii'
Idaho'

Maine1
Nevada
New Mexico 1

North Carolina'
South Dakota
Wyoming 1

3. Statutory rate plus wage-board "combined' laws (7 jurisdictions):
Vermont 1
Connecticut '
Puerto Rico 1
Washington1
Massachusetts'
Rhode Island '
New Hampshire1
1 Law covcrs both men and women.
'-' N o wage orders in effect.

United States Department of Labor's Part in Promoting
Minimum Wage
The Department of Labor program is directed toward improving
minimum-wage standards at both the Federal and State levels. The
Wage and Hour and Public Contracts Divisions administer and
enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Federal wage and hour
law, of 1938, as amended. The Women's Bureau and the Bureau
of Labor Standards, both of which are service and not enforcement
agencies, have helped to develop standards in the State minimumwage field as piart of their continuing program. The promotion of
the welfare of wage earning women is the particular concern of the
Women's Bureau.



16

MINIMUM WAGE

Through the services of the Department of Labor, information on
minimum-wage progress in each State is kept up to date and a
report of such progress is made available to State agencies, organizations, and individuals who want to benefit from the experiences
of others. Technical help is given to public and private agencies
and organizations, which request it, on how to make a wage survey,
how to prepare a cost-of-living budget, how to draft a law or order,
how to write a factual brief in support of a law or order challenged
in the courts.
Women's Bureau Publications
State minimum wage:
State Minimum-Wage Laws and Orders, July I. 1942-July 1, 1958. Bull. 267.
Part I—Historical Development and Statutory Provisions, 75g; Part II—Analysis of
Rates and Coverage,
Addendum to Part II—Puerto Rico, 20*. (Available
on request, revised material for insertion in Part II.)
State Mini mum-Wage Law and Order Provisions Affecting Working Conditions,
July 1, 1942-April 1, 1959. Bull. 269. 70*.
State Minimum-Wage Laws. Leaflet 4. Revised January 1, 1960. 5<t.

Other types of State labor laws affecting women:
State Labor Laws for Women, 1959 Summary. Processed.
Summary of State Labor Laws Affecting Women (separate reports for individual
States). Processed.
Digest of State Legislation of Spccial Interest to Women Workers. (Annual.)
Processed.
Maternity Benefit Provisions for Employed Women. Bull. 272. 1960. (In press.)
Equal Pay Primer. Leaflet 20. Revised March 1960. (In press.)
State Hour Laws for Women (as of Oct. 1, 1953). Bull. 250. 1953. 40<t.

You may write to the Women's Bureau for single copies of any
of these publications, or you may buy them from the Superintendent of Documents, United States Government Printing Office,
Washington 25, D.C., at the prices listed, with a discount of 25
percent on orders of 100 copies or more sent to the same address.
Agencies To Consult and Inform of Your Interest in Minimum
Wage
Government—Your State Department of Labor
Your State Employment Service
The Women's Bureau, United States Department of
Labor, Washington 25, D.C.
Civic—Your Consumers League
Your Union
Your YWCA and other organizations



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1960 O F — 5 3 6 9 5 7







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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102