Today, more people than ever are working in jobs that pay too little and offer too few benefits: nearly half the workforce earns under $15 an hour. This isn’t right, or inevitable. We should value and reward hard work.
An Agenda to Give America’s Working Poor a Raise:
- Raise the federal minimum wage.
- Provide access to earned sick leave.
- Protect overtime pay for millions of workers.
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Find out more in our report.
State rank: -
State rank is based on the concentration of workers earning under $12 an hour: the more workers earning low wages, the higher the rank.
– ranks - among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. - of all workers earn less than $12 per hour — - less than the national average.
In every state, a large concentration of workers earns low wages
The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for seven years. This is a poverty wage, and has an effect on wages for millions of jobs. Nationwide, 58.3 million workers (43.7 percent) earn under $15 an hour; 41.7 million (31.3 percent) earn under $12 an hour.
Concentrations of low-wage workers, this state vs. nationwide
Women do more than their fair share of low-wage work
Women represent less than half the workforce, but well over half of those earning under $15 an hour. Nationwide, 48.5 percent of women (31.4 million) earn under $15 an hour; 35.2 percent (22.8 million) earn under $12 an hour.
Concentrations of low-wage workers by gender, this state
People of color are disproportionately concentrated in low-wage jobs
While the majority of low-wage workers are white, black and Hispanic workers are far more likely to be in low-wage jobs. Nationwide, more than half (53 percent, 8.2 million) of black workers and 60 percent (13.1 million) of Hispanic workers make under $15 an hour. For black and Hispanic women, the numbers are even more dramatic.
Concentrations of low-wage workers by race/ethnicity, this state
The vast majority of low-wage workers are adults over 25
While the idea persists that low-wage jobs are for teenagers earning pocket change, the reality is far different. The vast majority of low-wage workers are adults, many supporting families. Nationwide, of workers earning under $15, 73.2 percent are older than 25.
Concentrations of low-wage workers by age, this state
Millions of people live in households supported by low-wage workers
Tens of millions of people live in households supported by low-wage workers.
Concentrations of people in households supported by a low-wage worker, this state
|Working families||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|Parents||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|Children||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
Low-wage jobs fail to lift millions of households out of poverty
Millions of people live in or near poverty, despite working full time. (Near poverty is 200 percent of the poverty level.) Many rely on government assistance programs, such as SNAP (food stamps).
Concentrations of people in households supported by a low-wage worker living in or near poverty, this state
|In poverty||In or near poverty||Receiving SNAP assistance|
|People in working families||- -||- -||- -|
|All people||- -||- -||- -|
Millions of workers have no paid sick leave
Nationwide, nearly half (45 percent, 47.8 million) of private sector workers in the US lack a single day of paid sick leave; 80.6 percent of low-wage workers lack access.
Concentrations of private sector workers without paid sick leave, this state
Millions of salaried workers to benefit from expansion of overtime pay
In May 2016, the overtime pay rule was updated to extend coverage to salaried workers earning under $47,476 a year. Nationwide, 12.5 million workers will benefit from this change.
Concentrations of salaried workers guaranteed overtime pay, before and after federal rule change, this state
|Before expansion||After expansion|
|All workers||- -||- -|
Tax credit lifts millions of working families out of poverty
The EITC, a tax credit to help low-income working households, uses a formula which considers income and number of dependent children. A proposed change would expand coverage to workers without children and young adults filing taxes; it could have a positive impact on 13.5 million tax filers.
Tax filers utilizing the EITC under current law and under the proposed expansion, this state
|Current law||Proposed EITC expansion|
|All workers||- -||- -|
The US is the most unequal large rich country in the world
Inequality has grown over the last 35 years. How does the average income of the top 5 percent of households in this state compare with the average of the bottom 20 percent of households, and what share of all household income in the state is held by each group?
The top 5 percent vs. the bottom 20 percent, this state
|Average household income||Share of all household income|
Ratio of top five percent to bottom quintile: - : 1