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The problem is serious for workers in the 20 states that still follow the stagnant and outdated federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which hasn’t been raised in more than 13 years, and is now worth less in inflation terms than at any time since.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.


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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