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Nov. 21, 2011

Study presents statistics about minimum-wage workers in Minnesota

A study released by the Department of Labor and Industry estimates 95,000 Minnesota workers were paid $7.25 an hour or less during the year ending July 2010; this represents 6.6 percent of the 1.45 million hourly workers in the state.

The $7.25 hourly rate is the U.S. minimum wage; Minnesota's current minimum wage is $6.15 an hour. Lower levels apply in some cases. Workers who are covered by both the state and federal minimum-wage laws are required to be paid the higher of the two applicable minimum-wage rates.

Findings from the report

  • Adjusted for inflation, U.S. average hourly earnings were at about the same level in 2010 as in 1970. However, the inflation-adjusted levels of the Minnesota and U.S. minimum wages have fallen since 1974 (the first year of Minnesota's minimum wage).

  • Among 15- to 19-year-old hourly workers, 28 percent earned $7.25 an hour or less, compared with 3.4 percent of 25- to 54-year-olds and 3.3 percent of those 55 and older.

  • Of all Minnesota hourly workers paid $7.25 or less, 43 percent work in food preparation and serving occupations.

  • An estimated 29 percent of Minnesota workers at or below the minimum wage received overtime pay, tips or commissions. Among workers at eating and drinking places, this percentage was 52 percent.

  • Those without a high-school degree made up 32 percent of all hourly workers at or below the minimum, even though they comprised only 10 percent of the hourly workforce.

  • Workers paid the minimum wage or less accounted for 8.2 percent of hourly workers in nonmetropolitan Minnesota, as opposed to 5.9 percent in metropolitan areas.

The study examines age, gender, education, marital status, poverty status, full-time/part-time status, industry, occupation and metro/nonmetro residence of Minnesota workers who are paid the minimum wage or less.

The report is available online at www.dli.mn.gov/RS/MinWageReport.asp. Copies of the report may also be obtained by calling (651) 284-5025 or 1-800-DIAL-DLI (1-800-342-5354).

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News media contact:
Jenny O'Brien
(651) 284-5261

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