The minimum wage was originally called the Living Wage, and it was meant to pay the minimum to live a lower middle class life with a family of 4, there were jobs exempt from this wage, waitressing is one such carryover, as was bartending, etc.because these jobs were not seen as a valuable asset or real work. Absolutely not kidding. There were many others as well that were not deemed to be actual labor, but more a light social labor that are still exempt from the minimum wage laws.
Minimum wage was originally called the minimum living wage, it’s purpose was to increase with inflation so that people could continue to live and thrive even with increasing costs. People were not prejudiced assholes back then against labor jobs, so working at a store clerk or in a drive thru was not considered trashy, they were service individuals like everyone else and deserved to live decently because they worked hard.
Had the minimum wage climbed with inflation as it was supposed to, we would not be having this conversation, but under first democratic, (ironic here) and then republicans, the minimum wage was not being increased on par with inflation but rather below inflation because of waving market trends.
The ball was first dropped by Truman however, who refused to raise it and said it was war costs, he also passed legislation that would stop it’s early growth because he felt the yearly growth was an error overlooked by FDR. He raised it twice instead of 8 times, and both times were for 1/4 of inflation. Subsequent presidents did not follow suit until Nixon.
Nixon passed legislation to limit the minimum wage, because he was afraid if he made the minimum wage on par with the inflation, the “newly joined” black workforce (Civil Rights opened up TONS of jobs for blacks that were previously not available, and under Kennedy, the living wage was granted to them as well), would move into suburban locations and flood white neighborhoods (literally on tape saying that). Unlike all presidents before him, he only raised the wage once, as he left office, literally the day he resigned, as a big giant “fuck you”, and he raised it double what any other president had ever raised it, by .40 cents.
One could easily say that the reduction and tie down of minimum wage, which is currently less than it was in 1956, is a completely racial issue and not at all about business or people’s work. A continuous unstopped raise in minimum wage along inflation as FDR intended, would have had no impact on businesses as they adjusted yearly to the increase and their workers were able to continue to spend their hard earned money to further the economy and create new jobs.
You can basically blame our entire screwed economy and our level of poor, even whites, on racism because the decline in wage is directly related to the joining of the black workforce into open service labor positions via the Civil Rights Movement. (Decline started in 1956, had a huge decline under Nixon, with a giant hiccup and then crashed down again, and never came back up).