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.

Percent of workers likely to benefit by increasing the minimum wage to $10.10

Percent of working families that live ...

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, for the first time, information on how many people in each congressional district and state are among the ranks of the working poor, how many draw on federal benefits, and how many would benefit from an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

  1. Estimate of the number of workers currently earning wages between $7.25 and $11.50, the range likely to be affected by an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10.
  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.
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