Minimum Wage Workers in US

In a recent FACTANK blog post, Drew DeSilver wrote “Who Makes Minimum Wage?” that reports 3.55 million hourly workers are at or below the federal minimum, in 2012.  Minimum wage earners comprised 4.7% of the 75.3 million hourly workers in the country and 2.8% of all workers in the US. By comparison in 1979, this group represented 13.4% of hourly workers and 7.9% of hourly and salary workers. These numbers are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which has been studying minimum-wage workers since 1979.  The present-day total number of minimum wage workers, 3.55 million, does not include salaried workers or those from the 19 states and District of Columbia with a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum.  Nearly two million individuals of this group earned less than minimum wage as they are a part of exempt groups, such as tipped employees and certain disabled workers. 

Minimum wage workers are mostly White (78%) and work part-time (64%). Half of this group are women and 50.6% are between the ages of 16 and 24 years. Half of these workers are employed in leisure and hospitality industry. The largest percentage of minimum wage workers lives in the southern region of the US (7.3%) while the smallest percentage lives in the pacific region (1.5%). 

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Sue Hodge

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