Nearly a Third of American Workers Earn Less Than $15 an Hour, Study Finds
These workers, whose annual income is less than $31,200, are disproportionately women and people of color, according to the study.
Some 47% of black workers and 46% of Hispanic workers earn less than $15 an hour, compared to 26% of white workers. Some 40% of working women earn less than this threshold, compared to 25% of men.
Half of working women of color earn less than $15 an hour, as do nearly 58% of single parents.
“It is shameful that at a time when many American companies are posting record profits, some of the hardest working people in this country – especially the people who keep our economy and our society running – are struggling to get by and fall behind,” Kaitlyn said. Henderson, study author and senior research advisor at Oxfam America.
Take Vikki Tully, 65, who lives in Alkol, West Virginia. She earns $12.70 an hour after working as a Head Start teacher for 26 years.
A lower salary also makes it harder for his Head Start program to fill vacancies. A teacher’s aide, for example, starts at $10.10 an hour, while bus drivers and cooks start at $9.87 an hour, she said.
“We’re understaffed in one of the centers because nobody wants to work because of the salary,” Tully said. “They tried and tried to hire people. We also lose people to other jobs.”
Biden Administration Efforts
There are various analyzes of how many people earn less than $15 an hour. The left-leaning Institute for Economic Policy last year found that 22 million people would see their wages rise if the federal minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour in 2025 under the Wage Increase Act.
Oxfam America’s figure is higher because it includes the number of people currently earning less than $15 an hour and looks at a broader set of workers that includes tipped workers, sub-minimum wage workers , gig workers, agricultural workers and social workers, Henderson said. . It also includes Puerto Rico, which adds almost a million people.
Both analyzes are based on US Census Bureau data.
Where do the lowest paid workers live?
Oxfam America, which supports the Raise the Wage Act, also looked at which states had a higher share of their workforce earning $15 an hour.
The South has a disproportionate percentage of workers earning less than that threshold, as do some states in the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain region, the study found.
In Texas, for example, more than 60% of women of color earn less than $15 an hour. In Mississippi, 45% of the state’s workforce earns less than that amount.
At the other end of the spectrum, Washington, DC has a minimum wage of $15.20 an hour, while California’s minimum wage this year has risen to $15 an hour for large corporations. Some localities, including Seattle, Denver and Los Angeles, have even higher minimum wages.