Unexpectedly Intriguing!
March 10, 2011

We introduced a portion of the data yesterday, as we compared the number of people earning today's $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage or less with those earning the same amount back in 2006, so today, we're going to visualize a portion of the BLS' very-recently released data on the characteristics of U.S. minimum wage workers in 2010.

First up, let's break down the average number of minimum wage workers in 2010 by their age group:

Number of Individuals Earning the U.S. Federal Minimum Wage ($7.25 per Hour) or Less by Age Group, 2010

Overall, teens (Age 16-19) make up 22.8% of all individuals who earned the federal minimum wage or less in 2010, while young adults (Age 20-24) represented 26.2% of all minimum wage earners, for a combined representation of 49.0%.

The next largest group, those between the ages of 25 and 29, accounted for 11.5% of all minimum wage earners, while all the remaining age groups have a percentage representation in the single digits.

Next, let's look at what the distribution of 2010's minimum wage workers looks like with respect to both their age and their gender.

Distribution of Individuals Earning the U.S. Federal Minimum Wage ($7.25 per Hour) or Less by Age Group and Gender, 2010

Once again, we find that the youngest workers have the heaviest concentration within the minimum-wage earning workforce. We find however that women are disproportionately represented within that minimum-wage earning workforce, accounting for 63.0% of all minimum wage workers, or rather, nearly two out of every three minimum wage earning jobs.

That disproportionate share carries across all age groups. Here, we find the lowest percentage share of women in the minimum wage earning workforce for the Age 60-64 group, which is closely followed by teenagers, who account for the lowest percentage share of women at 58.5%. By contrast, women between the ages of 45 and 49 have the largest percentage share for women earning the federal minimum wage within a given age group, representing 73.1% of all minimum wage earners in that age range.

Our final chart considers the number of people counted as earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 or less in 2010 by their level of educational attainment:

Number of Individuals Earning the U.S. Federal Minimum Wage ($7.85 per Hour) or Less by Education Level, 2010

Here, we find that minimum wage earners are most likely to have some college education, but no degree, as this group accounts for 31% of all minimum wage earners. These individuals are closely followed by those who have just high school diplomas, but no college education, who represent 29% of all minimum wage earners, and by people having earned less than a high school diploma, who represent 28% of all minimum wage earners.

Combining these percentages, we find that 88% of minimum wage earners are accounted for by people who have not earned a college degree of any kind.

Reference

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2010

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