Until the American Civil War ended, slavery was a common institution in the United States. Often portrayed as cheap, it still had costs associated with it. These included:
1. Obtaining the slaves: They were often kidnapped from Africa and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean under cramped conditions. That cost money. The slave trade was eventually abolished long before slavery ended, but that had the effect of making the slaves already in America more valuable.
2. Buying the slaves.
3. Giving the slaves food, water, clothing and shelter.
4. Treating the slaves of illnesses and injuries.
4. Guarding the slaves to prevent them from revolting or escaping.
5. Burying or cremating the slaves after they died.
Now compare that with people who work today at minimum wage. If you can only afford food to feed yourself and your children, a place to live at, medical expenses, and to pay for your funeral when you die, how are you any better off, materially speaking, than slaves 200 years ago?
And if you wonder why some want the minimum wage increased, that is why!