Saturday, December 03, 2005

Who Makes Minimum Wage?

Some demagogues charge that jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonald's only pay the minimum wage. That's plain wrong, as are many other things said about jobs that start at the minimum wage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Sixty-three percent of minimum wage workers receive raises within one year of employment, and only 15 percent still earn the minimum wage after three years. Moreover, only three percent of all hourly workers and two percent of wage and salary earners earn minimum wages. Most minimum wage earners are young -- 53 percent are between the ages of 16 and 24.

Furthermore, only 5.3 percent of minimum wage earners are from households below the official poverty line; 40 percent of minimum wage earners live in households with incomes of $60,000 and higher, and over 82 percent of minimum wage earners do not have dependents. -- Walter Williams

Hat Tip to John Hawkins

Can we take those stats and make them more real: Almost all minimum wage workers are just starting out on their first job, are very young, and live with someone who adds to their support. Moreover, 85% will no longer be earning the minimum 3 years from now. That last 15% are very likely also the secondary wage earner, and have reasons for staying where the wages are low. Very low skills, no effort to advance, poor work habits or attitude, other benefits on the job that are not paid in cash.

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