Facts about the minimum wage

Old Bernie and others are on the minimum wage bandwagon. That’s fine, I too happen to think the minimum wage should at least be adjusted to reflect inflation since the last change. However, the message like the one below is designed to mislead voters (unless he is so naive as to believe what he says). 

First, we should understand who earns the minimum wage. It is a very small percentage of the workforce, mostly young and single – nearly half are under age 25.  Only 2% of full-time workers earn the minimum wage. You can see all the facts from the federal government HERE.

A person working full-time at the minimum wage is not technically  living in poverty (based on government data). The 2015 poverty guideline  is $11,770 for an individual and $15,930 for two persons. (Not including non-cash benefits available to poverty level Americans). 

A person working 40 hours a week at minimum wage earns $15,080 a year and thus a couple would earn $30,160; considerably above the poverty level. Nevertheless, such an income is doing little more than surviving; not where anyone wants to be. 

Raising the minimum wage may help, but it is not the real answer which is that adults and heads of families should not be working in minimum wage jobs. 

Old Bernie likes to throw around “living wage” as a desired goal. Exactly what is that? A retired reader of this blog says he and his wife live comfortably on about $19,000 a year. On the other hand, my property taxes exceed what a minimum wage earner makes in a year. 

Raising the minimum wage, especially to $15.00 an hour, helps a very small segment of society while causing wage compression throughout the workforce and inevitably raises prices, most likely in goods and services used mostly by lower income Americans. 

Old Bernie and his supporters and the left in general ignore the big picture and the consequences of their compassionate sounding ideas. 

Old Bernie also says he is for equal pay for women; who isn’t? Go find an employer who hires a man and a woman for the same job and with identical qualifications and offers the woman less pay for the job. And if you find them, call the EEOC because they are violating existing law. 


  1. “Only 2% of full-time workers earn the minimum wage. You can see all the facts from the federal government”

    Sometimes your logic has holes in it. Right after you say the above statement you say a full time minimum wage worker is not living in poverty. But 98% of minimum wage workers are not full time. So it should not hurt to many employers to raise the minimum wage because only their part time workers are minimum wage. Double speak. Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.
    I am the retired person you speak about living on $19,000. But I do not live in a high cost area, like NY City or Los Angeles,
    I live in MT where we have low utilities rates and no state sales tax. The minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, It needs to be about $10 per hour and higher in high cost of living areas. Your logic is flawed on this one. Since 2008 MT has had minimum wage indexed to inflation and I have not seen prices rise here. There are plenty of things that go into price increases in the market place, wages is only a small part. Rents, utilities, taxes, etc. Studies have shown that higher minimum wage states economies are doing better. If prices go up a minimum wage worker will have to make choices, just like always, but they might have a little extra in their paycheck and not have to sweat the utility bill.


    1. You miss interpret the statement.

      2%of all full-time workers does not mean 98% of MW workers are part time. You mix ALL workers with MW workers. Among MW hourly workers a larger percentage are full time than two percent, around 12-13%. The MW population is not large and mostly young, which makes the argument that raising the MW will help the middle class questionable. On the other hand to make that argument you must count on the affects of wage compression driving up all hourly wages; hence more likely higher prices at some point.


      1. Then the statement of only 2% of full time workers earn MW should not be used if you have to have other data for it to make sense. Lies, Damned Lies and STATISTICS and you can mislead the masses. I read things all the time and 2 % is not 12-13 %, but that is still quite low. I do not think the minimum wage worker is driving cost increases where I shop.
        As a society we do not value low skill jobs as much as we should and we give way to much value to Doctors, Lawyers, CEOs and the Hollywood and Sports elite. I have met some very stupid people with college educations in my 60 years.
        But it is not and never will be a level playing field in this thing we call life, because most humans look out for themselves first, with very little consideration of others. Except for family and friends, that is human nature i guess.
        Things are much better today than they were just 100 years ago, but we have way too many people struggling with much higher debt loads and I am not sure the system can continue, no matter what happens with minimum wage.


      2. Not so sure it is the system as much as the people in it and their attitudes and life choices.


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