Economic Snapshot | Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

Most minimum-wage workers are not teenagers

One common misconception about minimum-wage workers is that they are mostly teenagers, working part time. In fact, of the roughly 1.4 million low-wage workers who will benefit from Jan. 1 minimum wage increases in eight states, roughly 80 percent are at least 20 years old and 78 percent work at least 20 hours per week. The percentage of affected workers who fit the false stereotype of teenage, part-time workers is a mere 12 percent.[1]

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington all raised their minimum wage to adjust for inflation. This “indexing” of the minimum wage ensures that the real value of the lowest-paid workers’ wages does not shrink as normal costs of living go up. More than a million workers will benefit from this increase.

For more information on minimum-wage workers, indexing the minimum wage, and the economic effects of minimum wage increases, see Fix it and forget it (2009) by EPI’s Heidi Shierholz.


[1] Source: EPI Analysis of Current Population Survey, 2010 Annual Social and Economic Study

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