- 39.9% of self-identified women in the workforce (30.8 million) are making less than $15 an hour.
- 50% of self-identified women of color in the workforce (14.7 million) are making less than $15 an hour.
- Four in 10—41.8 percent (25.7 million)—of self-identified people of color in the workforce are making less than $15 an hour.
- Well over half of self-identified single parents—57.5 percent (11.2 million people—make less than $15 an hour.
- The overwhelming majority of people who would benefit from a raise in wages are not teenagers, but adults. While some 5.8 million teenagers (ages 16–19) make less than $15 per hour, 46.1 million adults (ages 20 and up) make less than $15 per hour.
The picture also varies dramatically according to where you live. In Mississippi, 45.3% of all workers, 62.9% of Black workers, 55.2% of women workers, and 69.7% of women of color earn less than $15. In Washington, D.C., just 8.5% of workers and 11.6% of women workers make less than $15. In fact, the minimum wage there is over $15, so only workers making the tipped subminimum wage earn less.
We hear so much about inflation these days and so little about why it’s hitting so many people so hard: because wages were too low before inflation rose. Because there are few places in the country where the minimum wage is a living wage even for one lone adult. And yet when Democrats press to raise the minimum wage, we hear so much about how maybe $15 an hour is reasonable in New York City, but it’s just Too Much for the heartland. Except that it turns out, if you even glance at information about a living wage, $15 is pretty much the minimum needed everywhere. Just because something is happening to a lot of people doesn’t make it right, and that’s the situation with 31.9% of U.S. workers being paid less than $15 an hour. It’s still wrong, and it ensures economic instability and a constant struggle for tens of millions of people, disproportionately people of color and women and most of all women of color.