Unexpectedly Intriguing!
April 12, 2012

The BLS has released its report on the Characteristics of Minimum Wage Earners for 2011, and to mark the occasion, we've visualized the age demographic data from Table 7 of each report covering the years from 2006 through 2011 using pie charts, and then we set them in motion using Picasion's animated image generator (the "spinning wheel" effect of which turned out to be overly distracting, so we replaced it with a slide show!) Our results are presented below:

U.S. Minimum Wage Workforce by Age, 2006-2011

In the charts, we see that even though the number of minimum wage earners has more than doubled from 2006's level, from 1,692,000 in that year to 2011's 3,829,000, the relative share of each age group's representation among those earning the U.S. federal minimum wage or less is largely stable from year to year.

For example, we see that approximately half of all minimum wage earners in the United States for each year from 2006 through 2011 may be found between the ages of 16 and 24, with just under 25% in the Age 16-19 bracket and just over 25% in the Age 20-24 bracket on average. We see a similar stability in the percentage share for all the other age brackets.

The federal minimum wage was increased in stages from $5.15 in 2006 to $5.85 in July 2007, then to $6.55 in July 2008, then to $7.25 in July 2009 where it stands today, which accounts for the increase in the number of minimum wage earners in each of these years as the minimum wage hikes swept up people who were already earning higher hourly wages in each year of the minimum wage hikes.

The relative stability in each age bracket's percentage share representation among all minimum wage workers in the U.S. then is communicating quite a lot about the age distribution of income in the U.S. - younger people are the most likely to be at the bottom of the nation's income ladder.

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