A wage is the amount of money paid for some specified quantity of labour. When expressed with respect to time (usually per hour), it is typically called the wage rate, and is specified in pre-tax amounts. It is often the main monetary item upon which the worker and the employer focus when negotiating an employment contract.
Early forms of wages included salt (from which the word salary is derived). In modern English, the word salary tends to be used when referring to employment in which the employee is not paid by the hour.
Depending on the structure and traditions of different economies around the world, wage rates are either primarily market-driven (the USA) or influenced by other factors such as tradition, social structure and seniority, as in Japan.
Several countries have enacted a statutory minimum wage rate in an attempt to prevent the exploitation of low-paid workers.