Who Are Minimum Wage Workers?

Economist Mark Perry has an interesting blog post summing up the Bureau of Labor Statistics report “Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2014.” The following provides the percentages of different groups earning the minimum wage or less:

Age: 16-19 (15.3%), 25+ (2.5%).

Education: Less than high school (7.3%), High school graduates (3.5%), Associate’s degree (2.2%), Bachelor’s degree (less than 2%).

Marital Status: Never married (6.7%), Married (1.9%).

Hours Worked: Part-time (9.5%), Full-time (1.8%).

Perry summarizes,

Four important factors that will help workers earn a wage above the federal minimum wage are: 1) age (experience), 2) education, 3) marital status and 4) hours worked. Only 1-in-40 workers age 25 and above make the minimum wage, only 1-in-45 workers with an associate’s degree or higher makes the minimum wage, only 1-in-53 married workers earns the minimum wage, and only 1-in-56 workers working full-time earns the minimum wage. The evidence seems clear that the minimum wage applies only to a very small group of young, inexperienced, single, part-time workers, with a lack of education.

Check out the full report. In debates over the minimum wage, we should consider these demographics and take into consideration how much life experience–including work, education, marriage–plays into economic mobility.