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News Release Information

16-1106-PHI
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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Minimum Wage Workers in Virginia — 2015

Of the 1,919,000 workers paid hourly rates in Virginia in 2015, 50,000 earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, while 69,000 earned less, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Sheila Watkins noted that the 120,000 workers earning the federal minimum wage or less made up 6.2 percent of all hourly paid workers in the state. (See chart 1.) Nationwide, those earning the federal minimum or less accounted for 3.3 percent of the hourly paid workforce. (See table 1. The Virginia minimum wage is equal to the prevailing federal minimum wage.)

In 2007, 46,000 hourly paid workers earned the prevailing federal minimum wage or less in Virginia, the lowest level in the past decade. The 46,000 workers in this category accounted for 2.4 percent of all hourly paid workers in the state. In 2007, the federal minimum wage began increasing after holding steady for nearly a decade. Two additional increases in the federal minimum wage followed, resulting in more Virginia workers falling into this category, peaking at 136,000 in 2010. That number has declined in three of the last five years.

From 2014 to 2015, the portion of hourly paid workers in Virginia who earned at or below the federal minimum wage increased from 4.8 to 6.2 percent. The percentage of workers earning less than the federal minimum rose 0.7 percentage point in 2015 to 3.6 percent, and the share earning exactly the minimum wage also increased 0.7 percentage point to 2.6 percent.

Of the 120,000 workers earning the federal minimum wage or less in Virginia in 2015, 72,000, or 61 percent, were women. (See table 2.) These women represented 7.2 percent of all women paid hourly rates in the state. There were 48,000 men earning the minimum wage or less in Virginia, accounting for 5.2 percent of all men paid hourly rates in the state.

In 2015, Virginia’s proportion of hourly paid workers earning at or below the federal minimum wage ranked 2nd highest—tying with Mississippi—among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The states with the highest percentages of hourly paid workers earning at or below the federal minimum wage were in the South: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia (all were about 6 percent). The states with the lowest percentages of hourly paid workers earning at or below the federal minimum wage were in the West: Alaska, California, Oregon, and Washington (all were about 1.0 percent). It should be noted that a number of states have minimum wage rates that exceed the federal level. As of January 1, 2016, 29 states and the District of Columbia had minimum wage rates that exceeded the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. (See table 1 and chart 2.)


Technical Note


The estimates in this release were obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which provides information on the labor force, employment, and unemployment. The survey is conducted monthly for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by the U.S. Census Bureau using a scientifically selected national sample of about 60,000 eligible households in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The survey also provides data on earnings, which are based on one-fourth of the CPS monthly sample and are limited to wage and salary workers. All self-employed workers, both incorporated and unincorporated, are excluded from these earnings estimates.

Statistics based on the CPS are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. The differences among data for the states reflect, in part, variations in the occupation, industry, and age composition of each state’s labor force. In addition, sampling error for the state estimates is considerably larger than it is for the national data.

Minimum wage worker data, particularly levels, for each year are not strictly comparable with data for earlier years because of the introduction of revised population controls used in the CPS. For technical documentation and related information, including reliability of the CPS estimates, see www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm.

Some workers reported as earning at or below the prevailing federal minimum wage may not, in fact, be covered by federal or state minimum wage laws because of exclusions and exemptions in the statutes. The presence of workers with hourly earnings below the federal minimum wage does not necessarily indicate violations of the FLSA or state statutes in cases where such standards apply.

Estimates of the number of minimum wage workers in this release pertain only to workers who are paid hourly rates. Salaried workers and other workers who are not paid by the hour are excluded, even though some have earnings that, if converted to hourly rates, would be at or below the federal minimum wage. Consequently, the estimates presented in this release likely understate the actual number of workers with hourly earnings at or below the minimum wage.

The prevailing federal minimum wage was $2.90 in 1979, $3.10 in 1980, and $3.35 in 1981-89. The minimum wage rose to $3.80 in April 1990, $4.25 in April 1991, $4.75 in October 1996, and $5.15 in September 1997. On July 24, 2007, the federal minimum wage increased to $5.85 per hour; on July 24, 2008, to $6.55 per hour; and on July 24, 2009, to $7.25 per hour.

The principal definitions used in connection with the earnings series in this release are described below:

Wage and salary workers. Workers age 16 and older who receive wages, salaries, commissions, tips, payments in kind, or piece rates on their sole or principal job. This group includes employees in both the private and public sectors. All self-employed workers are excluded whether or not their businesses are incorporated.

Workers paid at or below the prevailing federal minimum wage pertain only to workers who are paid hourly rates. Salaried workers and other nonhourly paid workers are excluded.

Hourly earnings. Hourly earnings data are wage and salary workers who are paid by the hour and refer to a person’s sole or principal job. Hourly earnings for hourly paid workers do not include overtime pay, commissions, or tips received.

Median hourly earnings. The median is the amount which divides a given earnings distribution into two equal groups, one having earnings above the median and the other having earnings below the median. The median is less sensitive to extreme wages than the mean; this makes it a better measure for highly skewed distributions.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.


 

Table 1. Wage and salary workers paid hourly rates with earnings at or below the prevailing federal minimum wage, by state, 2015 annual averages
StateNumber of workers (in thousands)Percent distributionPercentage of workers paid hourly rates
Total paid hourly ratesAt or below minimum wageTotal paid hourly ratesAt or below minimum wageAt or below minimum wage
TotalAt minimum wageBelow minimum wageTotalAt minimum wageBelow minimum wageTotalAt minimum wageBelow minimum wage

Total, 16 years and older

78,2322,5618701,691100.0100.0100.0100.03.31.12.2

Alabama

1,1826640261.52.64.61.65.63.42.2

Alaska

2093120.30.10.10.11.20.40.8

Arizona

1,627446382.11.70.72.22.70.42.3

Arkansas

7122210120.90.91.10.73.11.41.7

California

9,667115259012.44.52.95.31.20.30.9

Colorado

1,242223191.60.90.31.11.80.21.5

Connecticut

904273231.21.00.41.42.90.42.6

Delaware

2366240.30.20.20.32.60.71.9

District of Columbia

1123120.10.10.10.13.00.82.2

Florida

4,238160131475.46.21.58.73.80.33.5

Georgia

2,1739546492.83.75.32.94.42.12.3

Hawaii

35610550.50.40.60.32.81.51.3

Idaho

458211560.60.81.70.44.63.21.4

Illinois

3,15410115864.03.91.75.13.20.52.7

Indiana

1,7796932372.32.73.72.23.91.82.1

Iowa

9313517181.21.42.01.03.71.81.9

Kansas

7943316171.01.31.81.04.12.02.1

Kentucky

1,0903815231.41.51.71.43.51.42.1

Louisiana

1,0947038321.42.84.41.96.43.52.9

Maine

35910280.50.40.20.52.70.52.2

Maryland

1,418315251.81.20.61.52.20.41.8

Massachusetts

1,651489392.11.91.12.32.90.62.3

Michigan

2,70610113883.54.01.55.23.70.53.3

Minnesota

1,6032610162.01.01.20.91.60.61.0

Mississippi

7264527180.91.83.11.16.23.72.5

Missouri

1,5835713442.02.21.52.63.60.82.8

Montana

2946240.40.20.20.22.00.71.3

Nebraska

55813490.70.50.50.52.30.71.6

Nevada

794209101.00.81.10.62.51.21.3

New Hampshire

389165110.50.60.50.74.11.22.9

New Jersey

1,803508422.32.00.92.52.80.42.3

New Mexico

511163130.70.60.30.83.10.52.5

New York

4,0159724745.13.82.74.42.40.61.8

North Carolina

2,37412255663.04.86.43.95.12.32.8

North Dakota

2225240.30.20.20.22.30.71.6

Ohio

3,2199316774.13.61.84.62.90.52.4

Oklahoma

9672915151.21.11.70.93.01.51.5

Oregon

1,0157351.30.30.30.30.70.30.5

Pennsylvania

3,52415054964.55.96.25.74.31.52.7

Rhode Island

3125050.40.20.00.31.50.11.5

South Carolina

1,1915634221.52.24.01.34.72.91.8

South Dakota

2616150.30.20.10.32.40.42.1

Tennessee

1,6497735422.13.04.02.54.72.12.5

Texas

6,0702871111767.811.212.810.44.71.82.9

Utah

7762513121.01.01.50.73.31.71.5

Vermont

1753030.20.10.00.21.90.21.6

Virginia

1,91912050692.54.75.84.16.22.63.6

Washington

1,795197122.30.70.80.71.10.40.7

West Virginia

433155100.60.60.50.63.41.02.3

Wisconsin

1,7816130312.32.43.51.83.41.71.7

Wyoming

1796340.20.20.30.23.51.42.1

Note: Data exclude all self-employed workers, whether or not their businesses are incorporated. These data are based on a sample and therefore are subject to sampling error; the degree of error may be quite large for less populous states. Unrounded data were used in all calculations.
 

Table 2. Employed wage and salary workers paid hourly rates with earnings at or below the prevailing federal minimum wage in the Commonwealth of Virginia, by sex, annual averages, 2005-2015
VirginiaNumber of workers (in thousands)Percent of workers paid hourly ratesMedian earnings (in dollars)
Total paid hourly ratesAt or below minimum wageAt or below minimum wage
TotalAt minimum wageBelow minimum wageTotalAt minimum wageBelow minimum wage
Total, men        

2005

877259162.91.01.812.83

2006

903194152.10.41.713.12

2007

854(1)(1)13(1)(1)1.513.14

2008

867263233.00.32.713.20

2009

826378294.51.03.513.71

2010

8314815335.81.84.013.58

2011

8395428266.43.33.113.36

2012

8935622346.32.53.813.80

2013

8864623235.22.62.614.73

2014

933309213.21.02.314.85

2015

9214821275.22.32.914.76
Total, women        

2005

8753613234.11.52.610.03

2006

937326263.40.62.810.31

2007

907335283.60.63.110.88

2008

943453424.80.34.511.17

2009

8756425397.32.94.511.07

2010

88088385010.04.35.711.18

2011

8586629377.73.44.311.48

2012

9106826427.52.94.611.96

2013

9206635317.23.83.412.22

2014

9466127346.42.93.612.05

2015

9977229437.22.94.312.05

Footnotes:
(1) Data not available.
 

Note: Data exclude all self-employed workers, whether or not their businesses are incorporated. These data are based on a sample and therefore are subject to sampling error; the degree of error may be quite large for less populous states. Unrounded data were used in all calculations.
 

 

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, May 31, 2016