Fast Food Workers Strike - How Many Workers Make Minimum Wage in Your State?

The Chicago Tribune reports that fast-food workers staged strikes at a number of fast food restaurants across the country today - including McDonald's and Burger Kings - demanding raises from their employers. Martin Rafanan, a community organizer in St. Louis, said local fast food employees can't live on the wages they currently recieve. "If you're paying $7.35 an hour and employing someone for 20, 25 hours a week, which is the average here, they're bringing home about $10,000 a year. You can't survive on that." Rafanan said. Protesters are demanding pay of $15 an hour, compared to the current federal minimum wage of $7.25.

State Minimum Wages

  Download the Excel Version of the Table: "State Minimum Wage Rates 2013"

The last time the federal minimum wage was raised was in 2010, when it went from $6.55/hour to $7.25. Although most states establish their own minimum wages legislatively (5 states – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – don’t have an established minimum wage requirement), federal minimum wage law supersedes state law. That means if the minimum wage established by the state is higher than the federal rate, the state rate applies. If the state’s minimum rate is lower than the federal rate, the federal rate applies.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only four states—Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota and Wyoming—have a minimum wage set below the federal rate. In those states, federal requirements supersede state requirements and the federal rate of $7.25 per hour applies. In 10 states—Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington—minimum wages are linked to a consumer price index. For these states, the minimum wage is usually increased each year, generally around the first of the year.

As of January 1, 2013, the prevailing minimum wage in 31 states was the same as the federal rate of $7.25 per hour, while the remaining 19 states plus D.C. had rates higher than the federal minimum. For those 19 states and D.C., rates range from $7.35 in Missouri and $7.40 in Michigan to a high of $9.19 in Washington and $8.95 in Oregon.

State-by-State: Number of Workers Earning Minimum Wage

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 73.9 million American workers age 16 and over were paid at hourly rates in 2011, representing 59.1 percent of all wage and salary workers. Of those workers, 1.7 million earned exactly the Federal minimum wage while about 2.2 million had wages below the minimum. That means that 3.8 million workers in 2011 earned wages at or below the Federal minimum, or 5.2 percent of all hourly-paid workers.

In 2011, Oregon had the lowest percentage of hourly-paid workers earning at or below the minimum wage at 1.2 percent, followed by California (1.6 percent) and Washington (1.8 percent). On the opposite end of the spectrum, Georgia had the highest percentage of hourly-paid workers earning at or below the minimum wage at 9.6 percent, followed by Mississippi (8.5 percent) and Texas (8.0 percent).