Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2002

According to Current Population Survey estimates for 2002, some 72.7 million American workers were paid at hourly rates, representing 59.6 percent of all wage and salary workers.1 Of those paid by the hour, about 570,000 were reported earning exactly $5.15, the prevailing Federal minimum wage, and another 1.6 million were reported with wages below the minimum.2 Together, these 2.2 million workers with wages at or below the minimum made up 3.0 percent of all hourly-paid workers.

The following are some highlights from the 2002 data.

Minimum wage workers tend to be young. About half of workers earning $5.15 or less were under age 25, and slightly more than one-fourth were age 16-19.

Never- married workers, who also tend to be quite young, are more likely to earn the minimum wage or less than persons who are married. (See table 8.)

 

Table 8. Employed wage and salary workers paid hourly rates with earnings at or below the prevailing Federal minimum wage by marital status, age, and sex, 2002 annual averages

Marital status, age and sex Number of workers
(in thousands)
Percent distribution Percent of workers paid hourly rates
Total paid hourly rates At or below $5.15 Total paid hourly rates At or below $5.15 At or below $5.15
Total At $5.15 Below $5.15 Total At $5.15 Below $5.15 Total At $5.15 Below $5.15
BOTH SEXES                      

Total, 16 years and over

72,720 2,168 570 1,598 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 3.0 0.8 2.2

Never married

24,983 1,366 380 986 34.4 63.0 66.7 61.7 5.5 1.5 3.9

16 to 24 years

14,167 1,074 319 755 19.5 49.5 56.0 47.2 7.6 2.3 5.3

25 years and over

10,815 292 61 231 14.9 13.5 10.7 14.5 2.7 0.6 2.1

25 to 54 years

10,340 277 57 220 14.2 12.8 10.0 13.8 2.7 0.6 2.1

Married, spouse present

35,558 496 108 388 48.9 22.9 18.9 24.3 1.4 0.3 1.1

16 to 24 years

1,623 54 13 41 2.2 2.5 2.3 2.6 3.3 0.8 2.5

25 years and over

33,935 442 95 347 46.7 20.4 16.7 21.7 1.3 0.3 1.0

25 to 54 years

28,242 341 69 272 38.8 15.7 12.1 17.0 1.2 0.2 1.0

Other marital status

12,179 306 82 224 16.7 14.1 14.4 14.0 2.5 0.7 1.8

16 to 24 years

400 30 8 22 0.6 1.4 1.4 1.4 7.5 2.0 5.5

25 years and over

11,778 277 74 203 16.2 12.8 13.0 12.7 2.4 0.6 1.7

25 to 54 years

9,116 187 45 142 12.5 8.6 7.9 8.9 2.1 0.5 1.6
MEN                      

Total, 16 years and over

36,135 800 218 582 49.7 36.9 38.2 36.4 2.2 0.6 1.6

Never married

13,393 571 163 408 18.4 26.3 28.6 25.5 4.3 1.2 3.0

16 to 24 years

7,365 431 139 292 10.1 19.9 24.4 18.3 5.9 1.9 4.0

25 years and over

6,027 141 24 117 8.3 6.5 4.2 7.3 2.3 0.4 1.9

25 to 54 years

5,817 134 23 111 8.0 6.2 4.0 6.9 2.3 0.4 1.9

Married, spouse present

18,107 159 35 124 24.9 7.3 6.1 7.8 0.9 0.2 0.7

16 to 24 years

721 13 4 9 1.0 0.6 0.7 0.6 1.8 0.6 1.2

25 years and over

17,386 146 31 115 23.9 6.7 5.4 7.2 0.8 0.2 0.7

25 to 54 years

14,248 101 21 80 19.6 4.7 3.7 5.0 0.7 0.1 0.6

Other marital status

4,635 70 20 50 6.4 3.2 3.5 3.1 1.5 0.4 1.1

16 to 24 years

155 9 3 6 0.2 0.4 0.5 0.4 5.8 1.9 3.9

25 years and over

4,479 60 17 43 6.2 2.8 3.0 2.7 1.3 0.4 1.0

25 to 54 years

3,730 45 11 34 5.1 2.1 1.9 2.1 1.2 0.3 0.9
WOMEN                      

Total, 16 years and over

36,585 1,368 352 1,016 50.3 63.1 61.8 63.6 3.7 1.0 2.8

Never married

11,590 794 217 577 15.9 36.6 38.1 36.1 6.9 1.9 5.0

16 to 24 years

6,802 644 180 464 9.4 29.7 31.6 29.0 9.5 2.6 6.8

25 years and over

4,788 151 37 114 6.6 7.0 6.5 7.1 3.2 0.8 2.4

25 to 54 years

4,523 142 34 108 6.2 6.5 6.0 6.8 3.1 0.8 2.4

Married, spouse present

17,451 338 74 264 24.0 15.6 13.0 16.5 1.9 0.4 1.5

16 to 24 years

902 41 9 32 1.2 1.9 1.6 2.0 4.5 1.0 3.5

25 years and over

16,549 296 64 232 22.8 13.7 11.2 14.5 1.8 0.4 1.4

25 to 54 years

13,994 240 48 192 19.2 11.1 8.4 12.0 1.7 0.3 1.4

Other marital status

7,544 237 62 175 10.4 10.9 10.9 11.0 3.1 0.8 2.3

16 to 24 years

245 20 5 15 0.3 0.9 0.9 0.9 8.2 2.0 6.1

25 years and over

7,299 216 57 159 10.0 10.0 10.0 9.9 3.0 0.8 2.2

25 to 54 years

5,386 143 35 108 7.4 6.6 6.1 6.8 2.7 0.6 2.0

NOTE: Data exclude the incorporated self-employed.