Minimum Wage Workers: Who are They?

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Whether or not you agree that the minimum wage should be raised, there are very real financial strains on the 5 percent of U.S. hourly workers who earn no more than $7.25 per hour, the current federal minimum wage.

This video, produced by Bloomberg TV, puts a human face on a few of these 3.5 million workers.  Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides more information about who they are:

  • Nearly half are over age 25.
  • Two-thirds are women, and one-third are men.
  • About three-fifths of minimum-wage workers are in service occupations, such as food preparation and food service.
Manuel Carvallo

The video makes it look like a race problem. Is it?

Kim Blanton

I just looked at the numbers, and it turns out that minimum wage workers’ racial and ethnic make-up very roughly matches the make-up of the U.S. population overall.
67 percent of minimum wage workers are white; 17 percent are Latino; 13 percent are black; and 5 percent are Asian.
Appreciate the insightful question!
Kim (blog writer)


Manuel & Kim,

Table 1 of the data shows \total paid hourly rates\ of 75.3M workers. I found in Wikipedia (have not verified elsewhere) that total US workforce is 154.4M workers. So the next question would be, \Are minority workers overrepresented in the number of workers who are paid hourly rates?\

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