This is a great study on the data behind the minimum wage.  As we know, the President’s statement of people living on $15,000 a year if applied the minimum wage to full time employees is the real question.  How many people does this incorporate?

  • 3.3 million or 2.4% of total US workers in 2013 earned at or below the minimum wage
  • 1.01 million or 0.8% of total full time US workers earned at or below the minimum wage
  • 77.4% of workers earning the minimum or less who are white
  • 62.4% of workers earning at or below the minimum wage who are women
  • 15.2% of workers earning the minimum or less who are African American
  • 46.4% of federal minimum-wage workers in the South, the highest region
  • 12% of federal minimum-wage workers in the West
  • Top states with minimum wage: 12.1% Texas, Pennsylvania 5.7%, Florida 5.5%, and New York 5.4%
  • 1.66 million or 50.4% minimum-wage workers who are aged between 16 to 24
  • 1.64 million or 49.6% minimum-wage workers who are 25 or older
  • 46.7% of minimum-wage workers in food preparation and related “hospitality” industries
  • 29.7% of federal minimum-wage workers with high school degrees
  • 28.1% of federal minimum-wage workers without a high school degree

The data really paints the full picture.  For full time people and responding to the President’s statement of living on $15,000 per year, this group represents just over 1 million workers.  I think this is a smaller number than expected.  Most of the workers in this statistical population are non-minority.  In fact, most of the demographics reflect the general society.  Thus, there is no bias or skewing of the data via race, or gender.  It does appear that the industry you work in matters, i.e. food preparation and hospitality.  This is something that is known historically based on fewer skills necessary to perform the required work.  The other main point is that education plays an important role.  The less education you have the greater chance of earning a minimum wage job.

By reading this analysis, my advice is to get as much education as you can earn to avoid the poverty trap of minimum wage.  With the issue posed by the president, my advice is to assist the 1 million workers with minimum wage issues, cut some small program that studies slugs or environmental impact study on Keystone and apply it to assist this group of full time workers in some capacity.

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Gary Kapanowski – Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt – Excelsior

The following blog is the opinion of Gary Kapanowski and  It is the sole intent to broadcast this opinion from Gary Kapanowski and exclusively and not to reflect on any other institutions or organizations associated with Gary Kapanowski or

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