The BLS Describes Minimum Wage Workers


The states with the highest proportions of hourly paid workers earning at or below the federal minimum wage were Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and Idaho (all between 7 and 8 percent). The states with the lowest percentages of hourly paid workers earning at or below the federal minimum wage were Alaska, Oregon, California, Montana, and Washington (all under 2 percent). It should be noted that some states have minimum wage laws establishing standards that exceed the federal minimum wage. (See table 2 and table 3.)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released some characteristics about minimum wage workers today—3.6 million hourly workers have wages at or below the federal minimum wage (the BLS notes that not all people earning below the federal minimum wage work somewhere that’s violating the Fair Labor Standards Act because there are exemptions to the law. Also, this doesn’t count salaried or non-hourly workers who may be earning less than the federal minimum wage). Other facts: Those ages 25 and under make up about a fifth of all hourly workers, but make up half of those earning the federal minimum wage or less. And last year, six percent of women working by the hour had wages at the federal minimum wage or below, compared to three percent of men. Data! Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program of debating for or against increasing the minimum wage.

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