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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2 Comments / Post A Comment

dudeascending (#1,921)

I think it’s insane that while there are 1.6 million people earning minimum wage, there are 2 million people earning under minimum wage. I’m hoping that a big chunk of those are waitresses/waiters/bartenders/etc., who make up for it with tips. Because otherwise, what the eff.

I left my zero-skills-needed retail job in high school at $11/hour in 2002. It blows my mind that the minimum wage wasn’t and isn’t more.

selenana (#673)

Maybe that’s why Oregon’s % of below-minimums is so low? They pay minimum to waitstaff, none of this $2/hr crap. Is that true of some of the other states on that list? WA?

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