Minimum wage workers account for 4.7 percent of hourly paid workers in 2012
March 25, 2013
In 2012, there were 3.6 million hourly paid workers in the United States with wages at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. These workers made up 4.7 percent of the 75.3 million workers age 16 and over who were paid at hourly rates. In 2012, 6 percent of women who were paid hourly rates had wages at or below the prevailing federal minimum, compared with about 3 percent of men.
Total, 16 years and over
16 to 19 years
20 to 24 years
25 to 34 years
35 to 44 years
45 to 54 years
55 to 64 years
65 years and over
Minimum wage workers tend to be young. Although workers under age 25 represented only about one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up about half of those paid the federal minimum wage or less. Among employed teenagers paid by the hour, about 21 percent earned the minimum wage or less, compared with about 3 percent of workers age 25 and over.
The industry with the highest proportion of workers with hourly wages at or below the federal minimum wage was leisure and hospitality (about 19 percent). About half of all workers paid at or below the federal minimum wage were employed in this industry, the vast majority in restaurants and other food services. For many of these workers, tips and commissions supplement the hourly wages received.
Total, 16 years and over
Leisure and hospitality
Agriculture and related industries
Education and health services
Professional and business services
Transportation and utilities
These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see “Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2012” (HTML) (PDF). 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. The estimates of the numbers of minimum and subminimum wage workers pertain to workers paid at hourly rates; salaried and other workers are excluded. All self-employed persons also are excluded, regardless of whether their businesses are incorporated.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Minimum wage workers account for 4.7 percent of hourly paid workers in 2012 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2013/ted_20130325.htm (visited May 29, 2017).
Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics
STEM occupations: past, present, and future
A look at employment and wages in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics occupations.
Workplace injuries and illnesses and employer costs for workers’ compensation
Workplace injury and illness data and the costs to employers for workers’ compensation in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.
A look at the future of the U.S. labor force to 2060
Projected long-term trends in the growth, size, and composition of the labor force.
Union membership in the United States
Historical trends in union membership among employed wage and salary workers; union membership by a variety of demographic characteristics.