Fair wages must reflect the wage of society. As each worker puts in their time no matter the productivity or marketability of their labor, so too must the minimum wage grant a fair share—not an equal share, but a share that nonetheless reflects equal growth with the wealth of our society.
Historically, we have indexed minimum wages to inflation. Productivity increases and the wealth per person—the per-capita income (GNI/C)—goes up, while inflation represents an adjustment only to purchase the same. If we become ten percent wealthier per person, the least-paid worker is paid so as to afford zero percent more for their labor.
The Federal minimum wage reflected two-thirds of productivity or more between 1950 and 1970. Today, Australia’s minimum wage represents 52% of their GNI/C. We must index minimum wage to an adjustment approaching ⅔ of GNI/C by 2035, if not sooner. In 2016 this would amount to $19.35 hourly wage, and so we must take steady and deliberate steps to restore the fair wage.