I was talking with mom a few days ago when the conversation turned to the minimum wage. Soon enough, the two of us were trying to figure out how today’s minimum wage compared with the compensation people earned back when she was a child.
Mom was born in 1918. Her father employed men to work his farm.
According to mom, my grandfather compensated his farmhands at the rate of one dollar a day, plus benefits. The benefits comprised the use of a riding horse, the use of a milk cow, the use of a house, the use of a garden plot, and a hog each year for slaughter.
The government did not mandate that compensation. My grandfather paid the going rate for farmhands in his day.
Mom says some of her father’s farmhands were able to save up enough money to purchase their own farm while working for him at a dollar a day.
The two of us concluded that the “minimum wage” for a farmhand 90 years ago was rather good when compared to the minimum wage of today, which is around seven dollars an hour now.