Who would be affected by a federal $10.10 minimum wage


(Mike Segar/Reuters.)

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Obama resurfaced a proposal from a year earlier: raise the federal minimum wage nearly $3 to $10.10.

“In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs,” he noted. Those states were California, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey. As of Monday, at least 14 other states have bills pending that would hike the minimum wage within their borders.

(Wall Street Journal)
(Wall Street Journal)

Economists are far from united on whether a minimum wage hike would discourage hiring. In a December survey of 48 economists, The Wall Street Journal found that opposition to raising the minimum wage outweighed support by nearly two to one. Liberal economists increasingly seem to be agreeing that its effect on employment is negligible, but others strongly disagree.

“The problem is that while there may be a new consensus emerging on the left-leaning side of economic theory, there is an equally fierce response from other economists,” Washington Post fact-checker explained in December.

But there’s no question that a large share of the American workforce earns wages well below $10.10 and would be directly affected as long as their jobs aren’t lost. The Fair Minimum Wage Act proposal in Congress calls for a $10.10 minimum wage to be put in place in July 2016; by then, some 12.8 percent of the workforce would otherwise be earning less, according to a late-December analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that advocates for fair pay. (EPI found that even more people would be indirectly affected, but given the ongoing debate over the effect of a hike, we’re going to focus just on those who would otherwise be earning less than the new minimum wage.)

Here’s a look at the share of different working populations that would be earning less than $10.10 by mid-2016 without the wage hike in the Fair Minimum Wage proposal, according to EPI’s analysis.

Share of the total workforce affected

The proposal would affect as many as 16.7 million workers nationwide, EPI found. By mid-2016, about one in five working Arkansans would be directly affected by a $10.10 hike, a larger share than in any other states.

Share of working women affected

In Louisiana, 24.1 percent of working women would otherwise be earning less.

Share of working men affected

By the time it went into effect, 17.4 percent of working men in Arkansas would otherwise be earning less.

Share of working whites affected

In Arkansas, it would hit 17.6 percent of working whites.

Share of working blacks affected

Some 38.3 percent of working blacks would be affected in Wyoming.

Share of working Hispanics affected

In Mississippi, 41.5 percent of working Hispanics would be affected.

Share of working Asians affected

In Indiana, 31.1 percent of working Asians would be earning below $10.10 by the time the measure went into effect..

Share of state children with parents affected

Fewer than one in five—17.2 percent—of children in South Carolina would have parents earning less than $10.10 without the passage of the bill.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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