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The percentage of minimum wage workers has actually decreased

Nicole Sinclair
Markets Correspondent
The percentage of minimum wage workers has actually decreased

The debate surrounding the impact of increasing minimum wages has intensified as cities, states and individual companies look to boost salaries higher than the federal standard. Deutsche Bank’s Torsten Slok put the discussion in context with some key charts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The current federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 is no longer relevant in certain cities, states and at certain companies.

From 2014 to 2015, 20 states have increased their minimum wage levels. Many companies--including Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT) have boosted their minimum wages, and urban cities are as well, as San Francisco has passed a hike to $15 an hour by 2015.

And while the debate surrounding the impact of raising the minimum wage continues, the share of the employed population being paid minimum wage has actually decreased in the past few decades. Of current total employment in the US--which stands at 143 million-- 78 million workers are paid hourly and 2.6mn workers paid at or below the minimum wage. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the share of workers paid minimum wage or below has shrunk from about 15% to about 3%.

 




That said, a few states stand-out with over 5% of their workers getting paid minimum wage or below--Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, and Alabama.

 

 

The debate over the need for and impact of raising the minimum wage has intensified, and Warren Buffett recently opined that there is a better fix for growing inequality than raising the minimum wage, which could disrupt overall economic growth.