Minimum Wage Woes: About 32% of US Workers Earn Under $15 an Hour

Bangkok, Thailand- April, 03, 2021 : Female staff at McDonald's deliver food to customers through the door of the car at the pick up point in Bangkok, Thailand.
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There are millions of low-wage workers across the U.S. earning “poverty-level wages” and struggling to make ends meet. As of 2022, more than 31.9% of the U.S. labor force, or 51.9 million workers, make less than $15 per hour according to a new data analysis from Oxfam — and many are working at the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour.

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“It’s shameful that at a time when many U.S. companies are boasting record profits, some of the hardest working people in this country — especially people who keep our economy and society functioning — are struggling to get by and falling behind,” said the report’s author, Oxfam senior research advisor Kaitlyn Henderson, per MarketWatch.

The report found that women and people of color were “vastly overrepresented” in terms of working lower wage jobs, MarketWatch said. Approximately 47% of Black people make less than $15 an hour compared to 26% of white people. About 50% of working women of color (14.7 million) make less than $15 an hour and 25% of men of all races make less than $15 an hour, compared to 40% of women of all races.

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The report stated that the federal minimum wage has remained the same since 2009, and that even then, the minimum wage was not enough to provide for basic costs of living in any state. Inflation is at a 40-year high, and the report noted that it will take an act of Congress to raise wages for the entire country, something that would ostensibly benefit all workers and perhaps the U.S. economy as a whole.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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