NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Who Earns the Minimum Wage

April 8, 1996

Those who advocated increasing the minimum wage, primarily Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass),contended that it is necessary to protect women and children. But statistical data portray a different story.

  • Only 60 percent of those earning the minimum wage are women -- not 70 percent as Kennedy erroneously states.
  • Of these, one-third are teenagers and well over half are under the age of 25.
  • Twenty-nine percent are married with a spouse present, 69 percent are part-time workers and 10 percent are over age 60.

These women are not likely to be the sole supporters of families.

  • As of 1993, there were only 192,000 women and 22,000 men in the whole country who maintained families on a minimum wage job.
  • They represented just 8 percent of those earning the minimum wage and a minuscule 0.2 percent of all wage and salary workers.
  • The vast bulk of minimum wage workers are either teenagers living at home or secondary earners working part-time.

As other liberals concede, the principal effect of raising the minimum wage is to reduce the number of jobs available, mainly those for minorities.

Source: Bruce Bartlett (National Center for Policy Analysis), "Playing Minimum Wage Politics," Washington Times, April 8, 1996.


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