A Pew Research Center survey from January 2014 found 73% of people favored an increase I in the rate to $10.10 an hour, the rate proposed in a Democratic backed bill, however support does appear partisan. While large majorities of Democrats (90%) and Independents (71%) said they favor such an increase, Republicans were more evenly split (53% in favor and 43% opposed.)
Here are four facts about the minimum wage and the people who earn it:
1. Adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968 at $8.54 (in 2014 dollars). Since it was last raised in 2009, to the current $7.25 per house, the federal minimum has lost about 8.1% of its purchasing power to inflation.
2. Perhaps surprisingly, not very many people earn minimum wage, and they make up a smaller share of the workforce than they used to. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year 1.532 million hourly workers earned the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour; nearly 1.8 million more earned less than that because they fell under one of several exemptions (tipped employees, workers who were at or below the federal additional 22.4% are ages 25 to 34, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; both shares have stayed more or less constant over the past decade. That group represents 2.6% of all wage and salary workers. In 1979, when the BLS began regularly studying minimum-wage workers, they represented 7.9% of all wage and salary workers.
3. Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia and nearly two dozen cities and counties, have set their own higher minimums. State hourly minimums range from $7.50 in Arkansas, Maine, and New Mexico to $9.47 in Washington State, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Together, these states include 61% of the nation’s working-age (16 and over) population.
4. About 20.6 million people (or 30% of all hourly, non-self-employed workers 18 and older) are “near-minimum wage” workers. These are individuals who make more than the minimum wage in their state but less than $10.10 an hour, and would benefit if the federal minimum is raised to that amount. People at or below the federal minimum are:
•Disproportionately young: 50.4% are ages 16 to 24; 24% are teenagers (ages 16 to 19).
•Mostly (77%) White; nearly half are White women (54%)
•Largely part-time workers (64% of the total).
•A majority (56%) have no more than a high-school education.
•More than half (55%) work in the leisure and hospitality industry, about 14% in retail, and 8% in education and health services.