The Minimum Wage

Wage earners will take home an extra 70 cents an hour starting July 24. The federal minimum wage began as a bulwark against the Great Depression.

Bettmann / Corbis

With the U.S. trillions of dollars in the hole, 70 cents an hour sounds like chump change. But it's a big boost for the millions of workers who earn that much extra as of July 24. The increase is the third and final uptick in a hike that has since 2007 boosted the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25. In total, the extra $2 and change translates into a yearly raise of some $4,400 for a full-time minimum-wage worker, nosing his or her family of four above the poverty line.