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Characteristics of the Minimum-Wage Workforce Characteristics of the Minimum-Wage Workforce

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Characteristics of the Minimum-Wage Workforce


About 44 percent of America's food-service workers earn minimum wage. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

The Labor Department has released figures that reveal much about economic differences among minimum-wage earners, especially people of color and Americans from various socioeconomic classes.

Among statistics summarized from a 2012 survey of characteristics for at- or below-minimum-wage workers:


50%  are 24 or younger.

65%   are women.

31%   are women 24 or younger.


20%   are Hispanic or Latino (Estimates by race do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all races; persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race; the white total is listed as 78%).

15%   are African-American.

3.3%   are Asian.

44%   work in food service, followed by 16% in sales.


72%   have a high school diploma or higher, including 8% with a bachelor’s degree.

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