Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2012

In 2012, 75.3 million workers in the United States age 16 and over were paid at hourly rates, representing 59.0 percent of all wage and salary workers. 1 Among those paid by the hour, 1.6 million earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. About 2.0 million had wages below the federal minimum.2 Together, these 3.6 million workers with wages at or below the federal minimum made up 4.7 percent of all hourly paid workers. Tables 1 through 10 present data on a wide array of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics for hourly paid workers earning at or below the federal minimum wage. The following are some highlights from the 2012 data.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These data on minimum wage earners are derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly nationwide survey of households. Data in this summary are 2012 annual averages.

1 Data are for wage and salary workers age 16 and over and refer to earnings on a person's sole or principal job. Hourly earnings for hourly paid workers do not include overtime pay, commissions, or tips received. All self-employed persons are excluded whether or not their businesses are incorporated.

2 The presence of a sizable number of workers with wages below the federal minimum does not necessarily indicate violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as there are exemptions to the minimum wage provisions of the law. The estimates of the numbers of minimum and subminimum wage workers presented in the accompanying tables pertain to workers paid at hourly rates; salaried and other non-hourly workers are excluded. As such, the actual number of workers with earnings at or below the prevailing federal minimum is undoubtedly understated. Research has shown that a relatively small number and share of salaried workers and others not paid by the hour have earnings that, when translated into hourly rates, are at or below the minimum wage. However, BLS does not routinely estimate hourly earnings for non-hourly workers because of data concerns that arise in producing these estimates.

Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2012, Tables 1 - 10

Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2012 (PDF)

Last Modified Date: February 26, 2013

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