Acton Institute Powerblog

Who Earns Minimum Wage And Why It’s Okay

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Do you remember trying to find that first job? You’d be told you needed experience by an would-be employer, but no one would hire you so you could get the experience. Finally, a burger joint or a summer ice cream shop or a retailer would give you a chance, usually beginning at minimum wage.

At AEI, Mark J. Perry looks at the world of the minimum wage worker. Here are a few facts:

    • While teens are the ones who typically earn minimum wage, they don’t stay there for long. In 2014, 85 percent of working teens earned above minimum wage.
    • If a worker does not have a high school diploma, the chances that he/she will earn minimum wage are higher. The more educated a person is, the more he/she will earn.
    • Being married typically means a person will earn more.
    • Part-time workers are much more likely to earn minimum wage than full-time employees.

What can we glean from this? Minimum wage jobs are not meant to be jobs that sustain a person and his/her family. They are “stepping-stone” jobs. Perry:

The evidence seems clear that the minimum wage applies only to a very small group of young, inexperienced, single, part-time workers, with a lack of education. The path to higher wages includes staying in school, getting job experience, working full-time and getting married. Raising the minimum wage will make that path to higher wages more difficult, not easier, because it will price many younger, less-educated, less experienced workers out of the labor market — and will deny them the opportunity to work, gain experience, and gain the job skills they need that paves the path to higher wages.

Read “Minimum wage workers tend to be young, single, part-time workers with less than a high school diploma” at AEI.

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Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.

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