May 5, 2014

More women than men earn the federal minimum wage

Substantially more women than men are in jobs that pay the minimum wage or less, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. Men make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force than women (53%-47%). But among those who earn the minimum wage or less, 62% are women and 38% are men.

More women than men have jobs paying them minimum wage or lessCongress is debating a hike to the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour), an idea that has strong support among the American public. Last week, a bill backed by the White House that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 failed to advance in the Senate. (Meanwhile, 21 states and some cities have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum.)

In 2012, women’s hourly wages were 84% those of men – meaning that women earned about 84 cents for every $1 made by men, a gender pay gap of 16 cents, according to a Pew Research Center report.

Among those paid by the hour, some 5.4% of women (2.1 million workers) made the federal minimum wage or less in 2013. For men, that share is 3.3%, or 1.2 million workers. (Some people may be paid below the federal minimum wage, including those who make tips.) The difference has narrowed since 1979, when the share of hourly workers who earned federal minimum wage or less was 20.2% for women and 7.7% for men. 

The biggest gap is between young women and young men. Among hourly workers ages 20 to 24, some 10.0% of women made the federal minimum wage or less in 2013, compared with 5.8% of men. By comparison, the gender gap narrows for older workers. Among hourly workers ages 30 to 34, some 4.0% of women made the federal minimum wage or less, compared with 2.7% of men. Among workers ages 60 to 64, women and men are about equally likely to work at the federal minimum wage—1.5% of women did in 2013, compared with 1.2% of men.

Topics: Gender, Economic Policy, Economic and Business News

  1. Photo of Jens Manuel Krogstad

    is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. Peter3 years ago

    People flipping burgers shouldn’t be in fear every bill they have to pay. Whatever the aspirations are, the base-lines on the hierarchy of needs should be met as soon as society is able to bear it (I mean, people in prison shouldn’t have it better than people flipping burgers, right?). The rest comes after…

  2. retired taxpayer3 years ago

    Are women’s wages skewed by their having children or a family to deal with? I cannot believe that a smart businessman, or other employer, would hire a man over a woman that is better qualified to do the job, unless there are extenuating circumstances. I was an industrial salesperson for almost 50 years. Most of the Human Resource people that I met were women. My experience is that if a woman can do a job as well or better, they get the job. In the sixtees, there were fewer women in the workplace. Now you have something less than 20% of the households divorcing. Is this part of the problem? Unfortunately, the numbers you give in this article doesn’t give us much to work with, because it leaves out the real “why’! Please complete your research before publishing!!

  3. slk3 years ago

    just raise the minimum wage, it’s that simple!!! or is it!!! lets say you raise it to 10. first, everyone in between will be raised, and the closer you get to ten, everyone will want to be that much ahead of minimum!!! how about those at ten??? raise their’s and then you have another group that says, “what about us???”!!! from personal experience, when you give one group a raise, the rest aren’t that happy anymore!!! and outside of socialism, a happy business, produces more!!! jusy my opinion, why are adults flipping burgers??? maybe this new generation thinks different, they grow up, and say, i want to get married, have a big family, and flip burgers!!! the old American dream was shoot for the stars!!! now it’s, take it easy, and the government or mom, will make it better!!!