How many Americans are REALLY living on minimum wage?

Week 1

How many Americans are really living on a minimum wage?

The narrative we’re hearing by those who support an increase in minimum wage is, “people need a living wage” and “people cannot live on the current minimum wage.”

How many people are struggling to make a living on minimum wage?

For those 25 and older, a little more than 1M people are trying to make a living on minimum wage.

Let me show you how I get to that 1M number.

In total, there are 77M people in America who identify as hourly paid employees.

  • Of the 77M, 3M are identified as being paid a minimum wage.
  • So, we’re really talking about just 4% of the total number who are paid a minimum wage.

But, it doesn’t stop there.

  • Now, take the 3M people who are paid a minimum wage and divide it in ½.
  • We then see that ½ of the 3M are between the ages of 16 and 24 years old who are earning a minimum wage.  So, we’re generally talking about high schoolers and college students who are looking to supplement mommy and daddy’s allowance.
  • The other half of that 3M are 25 years old and over.

For those who are 25 and over, we can reasonably assume are people who are truly trying to make a living on minimum wage.  As I said previously, “That number is a little more than 1M people.”

With this, someone will inevitably say, “So what, those million people matter.” 

I agree.  They do matter.  But, the 18M Americans who are currently unemployed are also important and their minimum wage right now is zero because they have no job. 

Likewise, the over 300M Americans in our nation are important too.  With limited resources, money, opportunities, energy, and time to go around, a good steward must sit back and say, “What is the best use of my limited resources?  I can’t do everything and I can’t save everyone…I must focus my resources to achieve the greater result.”  This is the study of economics. 

Our leaders are aware of these numbers, even if their awareness is peripheral.  If there is anyone who has limited resources to spend and must be wise about how to spend them, it would be our legislators.  Right?  We may have one or two major issues to contend with, but they have a thousand and one issues.  ISIS at our backdoor, national debt is growing past $18 trillion, 43 million people on food stamps, real unemployment number is hovering around 11%,  immigration issues, 22 veterans committing suicide every day, and the list goes on and on.  These are all important issues, we as Americans, must  contend with.

With this being the case, why do you think our legislators have decided to place their full weight behind a topic that will directly impact, at best, 1.5M Americans?  Is it because they care so much? 

We will get to those questions and others at a later time.  For now, consider the truth of what has been shared and discuss it at the dinner table tonight.  Share your thoughts.  Let us begin to sharpen one another.

We are Americans, a team, working together to make sure the little ones peering into their refrigerators find something healthy to eat.


Kathy Barnette

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  • Sue
    March 27, 2015, 9:39 am

    There has to be “something” to protest! Along comes Trayvon Martin but Obama and Holder can’t it to stick. Now, Ferguson, perfect! 80%+ black city and again Obama and Holder do their “Arab Spring” thing and voila…it gets out of hand an goes national…Garner didn’t help either. Still, there are too many “protests” going on and people being human begin to see, hear and learn the truth of each and quit paying attention. But still they protest every issue because someone pays them, feeds them and houses them to do so!!!

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