Workers are 46% more likely to make less than $15 an hour in states that pay only the federal minimum wage

The low-wage crisis is widespread across the United States and will remain so until federal and state policymakers prioritize the economic hardship of low-wage workers. Even after the rapid inflation of the past 18 months and recent unprecedented wage growth for low-wage workers, 21 million workers are still paid less than $15 an hour.

The problem is serious for workers in the 20 states that still follow the stagnant and outdated federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which hasn’t been raised in more than 13 years, and is now worth less in inflation terms than at any time since. . 1956. In those states, 19% of workers are paid less than $15 an hour, compared to 13% of workers in 30 states and the District of Columbia. As a result, a worker in one of the 20 states with a minimum wage of $7.25 is 46% more likely to earn less than $15 an hour than a worker in the other 30 states or the District of Columbia with a higher minimum wage.

Workers in states who only pay the federal minimum wage are more likely to earn less than $15 an hour.

The worker’s share paid less than $15 The number of workers earning less than $15
States (and the capital) with a minimum wage above $7.25 13% 11,345,000
States where the minimum wage is $7.25 19% 9,768,000

Source: authors’ analysis Microdata from the current population survey of the EPI program excerptsDecember 2021 – November 2022 Current Population Survey.

According to EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, there is no part of this country where a single adult without children can achieve a decent standard of living paying less than $15 an hour.

With no congressional action, the federal minimum wage has lost more than a third of its value since its inflation-adjusted high point in 1968. Policymakers in the 20 states that follow the federal minimum should not wait for Congress to pass a minimum wage increase and begin raising wages workers now.

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Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. (Source: EPI’s Minimum Wage Tracker)

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