Economic snapshot | Wages Incomes and Wealth

Workers 20 years of age and older benefit most from proposed hike to federal minimum wage

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Three years after the most recent increase in the federal minimum wage, proposals have emerged in both the House and Senate to increase the federal minimum wage to $9.80 by July 1, 2014. Such an increase would significantly help lower-income workers at a time when their wages have stagnated due (in part) to the lingering effects of the recession and a very tentative economic recovery. Forthcoming EPI research shows that those benefiting from a minimum wage increase are older than generally believed.

As seen in the figure below, 87.9 percent of those affected nationally by increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.80 are 20 years of age and older. The share of those affected who are 20 or older varies by state, from a low of 77.1 percent in Massachusetts to a high of 92.4 percent in Florida (and 93.9 percent in the District of Columbia).

Some minimum-wage workers are younger workers, perhaps saving for college or even contributing to their family expenses, but most minimum wage workers are 20 or older. Additionally, more than a third (35.8 percent) are married, and over a quarter (28.0 percent) are parents. For American families struggling to make ends meet, raising the minimum wage will make a significant difference. Moreover, 21 million children have a parent who will see an increase in their pay as a result of increasing the minimum wage.

Share of workers affected by increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.80 over the age of 20, by state

District of Columbia 93.9%
Florida 92.4%
North Carolina 92.0%
California 91.9%
Hawaii 91.7%
Tennessee 91.6%
Georgia 90.9%
Texas 90.7%
South Carolina 90.3%
West Virginia 89.9%
New York 89.7%
Louisiana 89.7%
Kentucky 89.7%
Arkansas 89.6%
Oklahoma 89.5%
Alabama 89.0%
Mississippi 88.8%
Idaho 88.6%
Arizona 88.5%
New Mexico 88.4%
Nevada 88.3%
Illinois 88.0%
United States 87.9%
New Jersey 87.4%
Missouri 86.9%
Montana 86.6%
Utah 86.5%
Indiana 86.5%
Virginia 86.3%
Washington 85.8%
Maryland 85.8%
Michigan 85.5%
Oregon 85.4%
South Dakota 85.3%
Ohio 84.8%
Kansas 84.5%
Delaware 84.4%
Colorado 84.2%
Rhode Island 83.4%
Vermont 82.7%
Wisconsin 82.6%
Wyoming 82.5%
Connecticut 81.9%
Iowa 81.3%
Maine 81.1%
Pennsylvania 81.0%
Nebraska 80.0%
New Hampshire 78.7%
Alaska 78.7%
North Dakota 78.2%
Minnesota 78.0%
Massachusetts 77.1%

Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey – outgoing rotation group data

See related work on Wages Incomes and Wealth | Young workers

See more work by Doug Hall