Minimum wage is changing, with a proposed increase in the federal minimum pay paving the way for up to 34 states to vote on proposed income hikes. In the wake of this change, it’s important to consider some of the changes that have occurred regarding minimum wage earners in the recent past.In 1979, 27 percent of workers making low wages were teenagers. In 2013, this number has dropped to 12 percent. Meanwhile, the average age of a minimum wage worker today is 35 years old, and a third of minimum wage earners are over 40. What has happened to society in the past 30 years? Have wages simply gone down across the board, or have more companies begun offering only minimum wage pay?
When one considers how the cost of living has risen in the past 30 years, the statistics indicating that 88 percent of low wage earners are over 20 become even more frightening. Even more disturbing is the fact that about 27 percent of minimum wage workers, a total of 34 percent of all employees, have children.
Of the workers who would benefit from a minimum wage hike, 19 percent are the sole breadwinners for their families. 12 percent, on the other hand, live in a high income home. This indicates that many young adults or teenagers making minimum wage live with parents or spouses who are making over 100,000 dollars a year.
These numbers are perhaps surprising, but this is due to the qualifications of the statistics you have heard before. For example, it is true that those people making the minimum wage or below are 50 percent more likely to be between 16 and 24 years old. However, as the current minimum wage is $7.25, and the proposed increase of the federal minimum wage is $10.10, there is a big difference between those earning minimum wage and those who would benefit from the minimum wage increase.
People making any amount in the almost $3.00 range of possible incomes between the current and proposed minimum wages account for the startling difference in statistics shown above. Thus, the common conception of minimum wage earners being comprised of only teenagers living with their parents is absolutely correct while also being an incredible misleading portrait of the typical low wage earner in America.