Minimum Wage Facts & Figures

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

The annual income for a full time employee working the entire year making the federal minimum wage is $15,080.

The federal minimum wage for tipped employees, such as waiters, waitresses, nail salon workers or parking attendants is: $2.13

Congress has raised the minimum wage 3 times in the last 30 years. The current federal wage hasn’t been raised since 2009. Since then, the cost of groceries increased 25% and rent increased over 50%.


The minimum wage of the past was a stronger standard, providing significantly more buying power than it does today. In 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt first created the minimum wage at 25 cents an hour. Adjusted for inflation, that would be worth about $4.00 an hour today. The minimum wage had its lowest buying power in 1948, when it was worth about $3.81 in today’s dollars. The value of the minimum wage rose relatively steadily until its value reached a high point in 1968, when it was $1.60 an hour. Thereafter, it suffered dramatic erosion as Congress failed to adequately correct for inflation over time. Today the minimum wage is worth 66% of its value in 1968. The minimum wage in 1968 would be worth $10.95 today when adjusted for inflation.

Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index & CNN

Past Minimum Wage              2016 Equivalent

1970                     $1.60                   $9.82

1980                     $3.10                   $8.96

1990                     $3.80                   $6.92

2000                     $5.15                   $7.12

2010                     $7.25                   $7.92

2016                     $7.25                   $7.25

US Department of Labor

Compared to other developed countries, 10 have a higher minimum wage and Australia has the highest rate at $15.61.

As the value of the minimum wage declined, employers were able to increase prices for products and services at the inflation rate – thus making more profits.

Minimum Wage workers are:

35 years old on average

88% are not teenagers

36% are 40 or older

56% are women

28% have children

55% work full time

40% have at least some years of college study.

On average, they earn 50% of their family’s total income.

Economic Policy Institute

44% of the workforce in the U.S. earns under $15 an hour, and 32% earns under $12 an hour.


73% of workers earning less than $15 an hour are older than 25.


42% of children in the U.S. live in a household with at least 1 worker earning under $15 an hour.


About 33% of parents earning low wages are single parents.


Of the top 10 occupations in the US, only 2 pay a median wage of over $15.25 an hour: registered nurses and secretaries. The top 3 are retail sales at $10.47, cashiers at $9.82, and food preparation and serving at $9.09.

There are more than 11 million people in these occupations – mostly women.


Home Care Aides

The median age of the more than 1.4 million home care aides in the US is 45. Nearly 50% graduated from high school and have had some college education. The majority work full-time. However, with a median wage of $10.25 an hour, 54% live near poverty. This is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the US, projected to increase by 26% in the next 10 years.



The minimum wage in Illinois is: $8.25

13 states increase their minimum wage to keep up with the rising cost of living  and 30 states have a minimum wage higher than the federal level.

5 states have no minimum wage.

“Living Wage”

The minimum wage differs from “living wage” in that the living wage is the lowest wage at which subsistence needs can be met by an employee.  For example, in no locality in the country can people who earn the federal minimum wage afford the typical two-bedroom apartment.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition

A living wage can be affected by marital status, number of children etc. For example, in Cook County, Illinois, a single parent needs to make at least $48,943 a year to cover basic expenses such as:

Food: $4,553

Child care: $7,364

Medical: $6,322

Housing: $11,748

Transportation: $8,320

Other: $3,699

Taxes: $6,939

The Living Wage Calculator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage would help reduce the number of full-time workers who rely on government assistance.

The Chicago minimum wage is currently $10.50, however it will go up .50 every year until 2020 when it will rise with the rate of inflation.

July 1, 2016: $10.50

July 1, 2017: $11.00

July 1, 2018: $11.50

July 1, 2019: $12.00

July 1, 2020: Rate of inflation

Arise Chicago

In Cook County, a living wage for one adult, is $12.56 an hour. For one adult and one child, it is $24.89.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology

When the local minimum wage increased overnight by 25% to $10 in San Jose, Calif., it boosted wages without reducing employment.

Institute for Research on Labor & Employment

60% of small business nationwide support gradual increases of the minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Public Policy Polling

The economic literature has typically found no effect on employment when one county had a higher minimum wage than another county.

University of California study cited by Goldman Sachs

Public policy has always been opposed. For example, the Chamber of Commerce at the national, state and local level has consistently opposed every minimum wage increase at any time and any place around the country. If it had been up to the Chamber, the minimum wage would still be at $2.90 an hour.

Sick Days

The U.S. is unique among developed nations in not requiring employers to provide sick days.


The law does not protect workers from being fired if they miss work due to illness. in a recent study, 16% of low wage workers reported having lost a job as a result of taking a sick day.


80% of high wage workers have sick time, compared to 15% of low wage workers.


Among food workers who worked at least one shift in the last year while suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, 49% reported to work (at least in part) because they wouldn’t be paid if they stayed home.

The Center for Disease Control

Lack of paid sick days resulted in 5 million additional cases of flu during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic.

The University of Pittsburgh

Workers with paid sick days are 28% less likely to be injured at work, suggesting that expanding access to paid sick leave could help reduce the incidence of non-fatal occupational injuries, particularly in high-risk sectors and occupations.

American Journal of Public Health

Lack of paid sick leave acts as a barrier to cancer screening and seeking medical care.

The National Health Interview Survey

On average employees of small business take 2 sick days per year even when 5 are available to them. But the availability of paid sick leave for times when it’s desperately needed reduces turnover and people showing up for work sick.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research