Raise the minimum wage?!

Framing the debate for workers and small businesses.
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exploreThe minimum wage in different places

When you look at the cost of living around the country, it becomes pretty clear that where you live has a huge impact on what the minimum wage should be. Is a single minimum wage the right answer for both workers and the six million small businesses that employ them?

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How much are employees really paid?

By itself, the minimum wage doesn’t say a lot. To give it some context, here’s how the minimum wage compares to the living wage for a single person with no kids, as well as the median wage.

Some important definitions:

Minimum wage

The minimum wage is the lowest hourly wage employers are allowed to pay their employees (in most circumstances).

Living wage

The living wage is how much a single employee with no children must earn to pay for basic necessities like housing, food, healthcare, and transportation.

Median wage

If you look at all the hourly employees in an area, the median wage is how much the one in the middle earns. Half earn more, and half earn less.

Minimum wage employees don’t earn enough to get by

In almost all of the country, minimum wage employees don’t earn enough to pay for basic necessities.
Seattle is the only place where the minimum wage reaches 100 percent of the living wage.

The minimum wage as a percentage of the living wage.


How many employees are left behind?

To understand how urgently change is needed, this chart shows many workers are currently paid at or below the living wage.

Minimum wage on the 2016 campaign trail

Donald Trump proposes a $10 minimum wage. Hillary Clinton wants it to be $12. Here’s how many workers each of their plans will impact, and a look at levels of income inequality (when the average wage is much higher than the median wage).

Income inequality among hourly workers

When an employee who earns the 50th percentile (median wage) earns a lot less than the the average wage, it means highly-compensated employees are driving the average up.

The cost to small businesses

Changes to the minimum wage also have an impact on America’s six million small businesses. Here’s how many businesses are likely to see their payrolls go up. Note that changes to the minimum wage can also lead to wage increases for other hourly employees.

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Dive even deeper into the minimum wage debate and its impact on small businesses.

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How much the minimum wage should increase