History and Effects of Minimum Wage in Georgia


Chart shows the relation between the real minimum wage and what it should’ve been had it followed productivity trends.

History and Effects of Minimum Wage in Georgia

Employee relations with productivity and minimum wage today, continues to cause struggle among high school workers in the United States.

The correlation between the minimum wage and productivity has been inconsistent since the late 1960s. The cause of the decline was due to policymakers dismantling many of the policy foundations that ensured equal correlation between worker’s wages and productivity, along with failure of labor laws’ protection against anti-union and anti-worker legislation.

These laws passed continue to create anti-worker environments, especially in the state of Georgia. 

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic that hit the United States early 2020, a large portion of workers have been laid off or had quit. A year later, the US is now facing a “labor shortage.”

Fast food restaurants and other corporations have since then had trouble finding workers that would want to work during the pandemic and for such low wages. 

Nevertheless, high school students have to work regardless. The current minimum wage in the state of Georgia is the standard $7.25. 

Wilson Pauta, a teen worker at Zaxby’s, says he works for about $9 an hour. He says, “working for $9 an hour on school days and weekends is stressful because I gotta do homework, study for tests the next day and work for $36 a day that I’m just going to use for car gas and fundraisers for school.” 

When asked about current controversy about worker’s rights and protection in the United States and Georgia, Pauta argues that, “…I understand that Georgia has the $7.20 minimum wage and I make 2 dollars more, but I’m still not going to have enough money for college tuition or any entertainment and I gotta take scholarships if I wanna go to college at all, but yeah Georgia is, federally speaking one of the worst states to work at. The bosses treat their employees terribly and I gotta deal with annoying — customers that don’t wear masks properly or at all…”

Pauta’s anger towards the issue is similar to that of many other teen workers who make around minimum wage. 

Dean Baker, an economist who has been advocating for the increase of a federal minimum wage, argues that, “if the federal minimum wage had kept up with US productivity, it’d be at a staggering $26 an hour… think of what the country would look like if the lowest paying jobs, think of dishwashers or custodians, paid $26 an hour.”

If the correlation between minimum wage and productivity continues to decline, the current “labor shortage” will continue to worsen. To combat this, workers should push for policies that will benefit their work conditions, that reverse decades of anti-union legislation, and form labor unions that will help protect workers’ rights.