A Profile of the Working Poor, 2007
In 2007, according to the Census Bureau, 37.3 million people, or 12.5 percent of the population, lived at or below the offi cial poverty level. Although the Nation’s poor were primarily children and adults who had not participated in the labor force during the year, 7.5 million were among the “working poor.” This level is slightly higher than the level reported in 2006. The working poor are individuals who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force (working or looking for work), but whose incomes still fell below the offi cial poverty level. In 2007, the working poor rate–the ratio of the working poor to all individuals in the labor force for at least 27 weeks–was 5.1 percent, unchanged from the rate reported in 2006.
Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2008
According to Current Population Survey estimates for 2008, 75.3 million American workers age 16 and over were paid at hourly rates, representing 58.2 percent of all wage and salary workers. On July 24, 2008, the Federal minimum wage increased to $6.55 per hour from $5.85 per hour. Data in this report reflect the average number of workers earning the prevailing Federal minimum wage or less for the year (those who earned $5.85 or less from January 2008 through July 2008 and those who earned $6.55 or less from August 2008 through the end of the year). Among those paid by the hour, 286,000 earned exactly the prevailing Federal minimum wage in 2008. About 1.9 million had wages below the minimum. Together, these 2.2 million workers with wages at or below the minimum made up 3.0 percent of all hourly-paid workers. Tables 1-10 present data on a wide array of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics for hourly-paid workers earning at or below the Federal minimum wage.