Working poor in America

Low-wage workers are everywhere in America. More than 25 million workers would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage to $10.101

Raising the minimum wage would lift millions of families out of poverty, save taxpayers billions of dollars, and boost economic recovery.

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Concentrations of low-wage workers

This map illustrates the percentages of low-wage workers who would benefit from a raise in the minimum wage to $10.10. The darker colors indicate higher concentrations of low-wage workers.


Although the US is a wealthy country, tens of millions of workers today earn wages so low that they and their families are either poor or “near poor.”2 Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would benefit more than 25 million workers, one-fifth of the nation’s workforce, as well as the family members who depend on their earnings.

This study provides information on how many people in each congressional district and state are among the ranks of the working poor and their families, how many low-wage workers draw on federal benefits, and how many workers and their family members would benefit from an increase in the federal minimum wage.

  1. We define low-wages workers as those earning $11.50 per hour or less.
  2. We use the common definition of “near poverty” of incomes between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty level. The number of “working poor” includes people in households with at least one worker whose wages are not enough to raise household income above the poverty level or 200% of poverty.
  3. Children are defined as under 18 years old
  4. Includes all related or adopted members of a family in which at least one worker would be affected by a $10.10 minimum wage. Includes spouses, children, siblings, and parents.
  5. Insufficient survey data are available because there are not enough people in the working population to provide statistically significant sample sizes.