Surprising Facts About Minimum Wage Earners


Written by Tula Connell, AFL-CIO

Opponents of increasing the nation’s minimum wage always fall back on the argument that it doesn’t need to be raised because it’s mostly teenagers working part-time for extra pocket money who are getting that hourly figure (which right now is $7.25).

A new study shows that stereotype isn’t true. In fact, the majority of minimum wage workers have completed some college, live in families making less than $40,000 a year and so are contributing to the family income, and are working full-time.

Economic Policy Institute (EPI) economist Doug Hall blows up the myths behind the minimum wage at EPI’s Working Economics blog, where he also shows that the vast majority of minimum wage earners are white and only 15 percent are part-time workers.

Hall argues that now is the ideal time for Congress to raise the minimum wage.

As my colleague David Cooper wrote in April, increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.80 by July 1, 2014, would benefit more than 28 million workers and increase national GDP by over $25 million, in the process creating more than 100,000 jobs. Given the lackluster recovery that continues to cast a pall over the nation, this positive step should be embraced by all those who care about the well-being of working families.

Hall writes that Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin (D) introduced the Rebuild America Act, a bill that contains important provisions to strengthen the economy and improve the well-being of working Americans.

Among the many worthy elements of this bill is a proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $9.80 by July 1, 2014.

Next week marks the third year since the federal minimum wage was increased. But it’s a good bet for many members of Congress, the only way they would raise the minimum wage is if they actually had to live on $7.25 an hour.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) just released a new report that also provides unexpected facts about minimum wage workers, including the fact that the majority (66 percent) of low-wage workers are not employed by small businesses, but rather by large corporations with more than 100 employees. Read the report summary here.

This post was originally published by the AFL-CIO.


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Matteo Heath
Matteo Heath2 years ago

Scott A. people like you are the reason why I wish I could bitch smack people through a computer screen. Do you realize that since we federalized the education system our children have suffered for it? Our nation on average has gotten dumber and dumber every year as a result. Look at all the schools closing down receiving no funding. It's outrageous. But oh man, how did we ever teach our children anything without the feds. Also, yeah we can keep our own streets safe. Maybe you couldn't because you are probably a giant pussy, but yeah, you could form a tight sense of community with the people you live around, and watch out for each other. That's what people used to do. There weren't always Sheriffs and Police Stations everywhere. And now we have technology on our side. You could set up and enforce a perimeter around your neighborhood so damn fast it would make your head spin. As for fire departments and the USPS, I'm sure we could find a way to make both strictly local, locally funded, and I bet they would run smoother than they do now.

Scott Amundsen
Scott Amundsen3 years ago

WASP male. No money, no help.

roflol :P

Scott Amundsen
Scott Amundsen3 years ago

WASP male. No money, no help.

roflol :P

Debbi Ryan
Deb Ryan3 years ago

wasp female,no money HELP!

Gabriel Reichler
Gabriel R.3 years ago


Grace Adams
Grace Adams3 years ago

The only way to make a raise in the minimum wage really stick is to spend enough of the taxpayers' money on community service employment program jobs to make such a job available to everyone who asks for one. ---- That includes those who quit WalMart because they would rather pick up litter in the streets, off sidewalks, and in parks under the supervision of a local government bureaucrat than take any more guff from WalMart. Without a community service employment program large enough to accommodate everyone who wants such a job, labor will be driven into a black market of jobs at either very much less than the current minimum wage or just plain illegal work--like pushing street drugs.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.3 years ago

Sometimes someone with a degree makes minimum wage.

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Stanley Rampersad
Stanley Balgobin4 years ago

Minimum wage is not a living wage. For rent, food, transportation, household bills alone consumes the annual income. Americans are struggling to survive the CEO's get richer, Wall street crooks harvest their spoils, Big banks and credit card companies exploit the working poor. This is Capitalism USA in it's finest hour.

Scott Amundsen
Scott Amundsen4 years ago

And just what are we supposed to be "depending on ourselves" for as opposed to the government? Keeping our streets safe? Putting out fires? Educating our children? Delivering the mail?

I want some examples. Your statement may very well be the STUPIDEST thing I have seen on the Internet in the last ten years.