5 Stats About Low-Wage Workers That Should Shock You

PHOTO: AP Photo/Nick Ut, File

Since last November, the country witnessed a surge of demonstrations among low-wage workers who are demanding higher wages.

The most recent Labor Day fast-food worker walk outs in 35 cities, as well as Walmart protests in 15 cities, had a simple goal: to make the minimum wage $15 per hour.

Here are five more figures about low-wage workers and their minimum-wage increase demand that are nothing short of awful.

1. Only 30 percent of fast-food workers are teenagers

One of the major arguments in favor of keeping the $7.25 minimum wage is that most low-wage employees are teenagers working for a little extra cash and spending money. The reality is that the vast majority fast-food workers are adults over the age of 20, 70 percent to be exact. That percentage rises to 88 percent for low-wage workers across all industries. Adults who are low-wage workers are also typically earning about half their family’s income, meaning that fast-food and low-income wages are not for the purpose of ‘extra spending money.’

2. Low-wage workers are more educated than ever

Think the majority of low-wage workers (those who make less than $10 per hour) are uneducated? Think again. About 43.2 percent of low-wage workers have some college education, a college degree or an advanced degree. Comparatively, only 25.5. percent of low-wage workers had equal education levels in 1979. That means the number of low-wage workers who are educated has grown exponentially since 1979. Correspondingly, the rate at which low-wage workers have less than a high school degree has in essence shrunk in half, decreasing from 39.5 percent to 19.5 percent.

3. The CEO of McDonalds makes 580 times a full-time minimum-wage worker

A low-wage worker making minimum wage ($7.25) and who works 40 hours a week would make $15,080 per year. In contrast, the last CEO of McDonalds, Jim Skinner, made $8.75 million in pay in 2012. The number is even more stark when you consider that most minimum-wage workers make under $15,080 per year because they don’t always have the opportunity to work 40 hours a week. This one of the big reasons the U.S. has the fourth-highest economic disparity out of any OCED country, behind Chile, Turkey and Mexico.

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