Majority of working 15- to 17-year olds earn above minimum wage

August 23, 2000

Of the working 15-, 16-, and 17-year olds in 1998, a majority earned in excess of the minimum wage.

Percentage of working 15-17 year olds by wage, 1998
[Chart data—TXT]

In 1998, median earnings of 15- to 17-year-olds combined were $5.57 per hour. Earnings increased with age: 15-year-olds earned a median of $5.38 per hour, 16-year-olds earned $5.52, and 17-year-olds earned $5.65 per hour.

Even among 15-year-olds, 59 percent of young workers earned more than the 1998 minimum wage of $5.15. A quarter earned less than the minimum wage, as some occupations—including many food service jobs—are exempt from the minimum wage or may pay a training wage for a specified period. The proportion of employed youths that earned more than the minimum wage increased to 71 percent of 16-year olds and to three-quarters of those aged 17.

Data on how much youth earn are a product of the Current Population Survey program. Additional information is available from Chapter 4 of the Report on the Youth Labor Force.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Majority of working 15- to 17-year olds earn above minimum wage on the Internet at (visited September 27, 2016).


Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics

  • A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
    As one of the largest U.S. industries, healthcare is steadily growing to meet the needs of an increasing population with an increasing life expectancy. This Spotlight looks at how much people spend on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.

  • Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations
    Healthcare occupations are a significant percentage of U.S. employment. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare. This Spotlight examines employment and wages for healthcare occupations.

  • Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
    Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.