[Update: I got quite a lot of negative feedback about the "tone" of this entry. I admit I was ticked off when I wrote it and probably should have let it sit for a day or so. Having said that, I stand by the point, which I think is valid. However, I do confess to being, as one commenter said, "tone deaf." ]
There's an old story about a child who murdered his parents and then, at his trial, pleaded for mercy from the court... because he was an orphan.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Cherokee Nation) recently snarked at an economist that the minimum wage, if it had grown since 1960 at the same rate as "productivity," should be about $22 an hour instead of $7.25. She wondered out loud "what happened to the other $14.75?"
Well, there's one thing that happened that nobody is talking about. You can use this little tidbit of information to start a fight with Aunt Nellie next Thanksgiving, if nothing else.
But first, Economics 101: When you double the supply of something, does that put upward or downward pressure on prices? In other words, if there's more of something available, does the price go up or down? Answer: The price goes down. This is called "supply and demand" (see also "basic friggin common sense.")
Prior to "the Sixties," women were expected to do silly things like getting married, having babies and raising them, while men were expected to go out and do silly things like getting jobs to support their wives and children. So wages were relatively high because (a) only half the population (the male half) was looking for work and (b) most men needed to make a certain amount of money because they were supporting a family.
In the late sixties, thanks to "women's liberation" (later renamed "feminism" because it was easier to fit on T-shirts) this foolish system was abandoned in favor of a system where everybody went out and looked for a job and then came home and bitched about how there were no good jobs at good wages available anymore. Because there were suddenly twice as many (give or take) workers available, there was incredible downward pressure on wages (the price of labor.) Look it up. I'll wait.
[ Parenthetical addendum: Also in the 1960s: The "Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965" opened the doors of an immigration tide that hasn't stopped yet. This shoved wages, already depressed, further down as immigration doubled by 1970, then doubled again by 1990. ]
So one reason for the depressed minimum wage is the very people who are bitching about it now - the Left.
You want to know why the minimum wage is so low, Professor Warren? Look in a mirror.