The Average Age Of A Minimum Wage Worker In America Is 36

By Michael Snyder.

Dollar Stacks - Public DomainDid you know that 89 percent of all minimum wage workers in the United States are not teens?  At this point, the average age of a minimum wage worker in this country is 36, and 56 percent of them are women.  Millions upon millions of Americans are working as hard as they can (often that means two or three jobs), and yet despite all of their hard work they still find themselves mired in poverty.  One of the big reasons for this is that we have created two classes of workers in the United States.  “Full-time workers” are entitled to an array of benefits and protections by law that “part-time workers” do not get.  And thanks to perverse incentives contained in Obamacare and other ridiculous laws, we have motivated employers to move as many workers from the “full-time” category to the “part-time” category as possible.  It may be hard to believe, but right now only 44 percent of all U.S. adults are employed for 30 or more hours each week.  But to get any kind of a job at all is a real challenge in many parts of the country today.  As you read this article, there are more than 100 million working age Americans that are not employed in any capacity.  And according to John Williams of, if the federal government was actually using honest numbers the unemployment rate would be sitting at 23 percent.  That is not an “employment recovery” – that is a national crisis.

The following infographic comes from the Economic Policy Institute.  I certainly do not agree with a lot of the things that the Economic Policy Institute stands for, but I think that these numbers do accurately reflect what “part-time America” looks like today…

Minimum Wage - Economic Policy Institute

So what is the solution to this problem?

Most Democrats believe that raising the minimum wage would fix this.  But as Zero Hedge has pointed out, it isn’t quite that simple…

Last week, we noted that Democratic lawmakers in the US are pushing for what they call “$12 by ’20” which, as the name implies, is an effort to raise the minimum wage to $12/hour over the course of the next five years. Republicans argue that if Democrats got their wish and the pay floor were increased by nearly 70%, it would do more harm than good for low-income Americans as the number of jobs that would be lost as a result of employers cutting back in the face of dramatically higher labor costs would offset the benefit that accrues to the workers who are lucky enough to keep their jobs.

Yes, raising the minimum wage would make life better for many minimum wage workers in America.  But a large number of them would also lose their jobs completely, and a lot of small businesses would deeply suffer financially.

Ideally, what we would love to see happen is for the U.S. economy to be producing so many good jobs that the only people that are looking for entry-level part-time jobs would be teens, people just starting out in the workforce, etc.  Back when I was a teen, I remember walking into a McDonald’s and getting hired on the spot because they were in dire need of workers.  Sadly, those days are long, long gone.

Over the past several decades, millions of good paying American jobs have been shipped overseas, and millions more have been lost to advancing technology.  And as I wrote about the other day, Barack Obama is deeply betraying American workers by working on a global economic treaty that would destroy millions more good paying jobs.

Thanks to the foolishness of our politicians, there is now intense competition even for minimum wage jobs at this point.

We keep hearing about an “employment recovery”, but it is a giant lie.  Posted below is a chart of the civilian employment to population ratio.  As you can see, the percentage of the working age population that is actually employed is much, much lower than it used to be…

Employment Population Ratio 2015

In recent months, we have seen the employment-population ratio move slightly higher.  But can this be called “an employment recovery”?  Of course not.  We are still way, way below the level that we were at just prior to the last recession, and now the next recession is just about upon us.

Meanwhile, the quality of our jobs continues to decline as more Americans are being pushed into “part-time work” with each passing year.

Since February of 2008, the size of the U.S. population has grown by 16.8 million people.  But during that same time frame, the number of full-time jobs in this country has actually decreased.

And at this point, the majority of American workers simply do not make enough money to support a middle class family.  The following income numbers come directly from the Social Security Administration

-39 percent of American workers make less than $20,000 a year.

-52 percent of American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

-63 percent of American workers make less than $40,000 a year.

-72 percent of American workers make less than $50,000 a year.

Are you starting to see why I am so fired up about all of this?

We have developed a business culture in this country which does not care about workers.  In business schools all over America, future executives are taught that a corporation only has one goal – to maximize wealth for the shareholders.  Taking care of those that are part of your team is treated as an afterthought at best.

As corporations have gotten bigger, they have shown less and less concern for those that work for them.  These days, employees are generally regarded as “expensive liabilities” that are to be discarded the moment that their usefulness has come to an end.  And news of layoffs is often rewarded by Wall Street by a surge in the stock prices of the companies making those layoffs.

In the old days, more businesses in America were family-owned, and employees were often regarded as almost “part of the family”.  Unfortunately, those days have disappeared forever.

Now, employees are treated like scum by many big companies, and if they don’t like how they are being treated they are told that they can leave.  For example, just consider what was going on at a security company down in Florida

Jose Molero worked as a site inspector for the company, which provides security for neighborhoods and companies across the country, for more than a year.

Molero says when he went to the Kensington Golf and Country Club guardhouse, he found wooden paddles on a desk, some with staff names on them and one reading “for staff discipline.”

He says there was also what is called a “Wall of Shame,” where the supervisor points out and posts reports that contain grammatical errors.

When Molero complained about these things to his district manager, he was told that if anyone was offended “maybe they shouldn’t work here”…

Molero contacted his operations manager, who told him to speak with the district manager. He says the district manager sent him an email response that said, “if that hurts their feelings then maybe they shouldn’t work here.”

Do you have a similar horror story to share?

Most of us do.

The U.S. economy is absolutely dominated by cold, heartless corporations that have no interest in listening to the little guy.  If they could find a way to do it, many of them would operate with no low-level employees at all.  And as technology continues to advance, they will replace as many of us as they can with robots, drones, machines and computers.

I’ll be honest with you – the future for workers in America looks really bleak.  The competition for any jobs that can’t be shipped overseas or replaced by technology is going to become even more heated.  This means that the middle class is going to get even smaller, the number of Americans dependent on the government is going to continue to explode, and the disparity between the wealthy and the poor is going to become even greater.

So what is the solution to this giant mess?  Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…


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  • jadan

    The solution is revolution. The system does not work and it’s ready to collapse as you never tire of pointing out, Snyder. It would be nice to have a plan in hand: we’ll do this and this and this. But we won’t. The only politician talking about political revolution is Bernie Sanders. I say vote for him for a start. Get rid of the national security state, the DHS, the DEA, strictly hogtie the NSA, get rid of the Patriot Act. Eliminate impediments to direct democracy.

  • Silverado

    Let’s see…where to start with this fantasy? How about rounding up & jailing the neocons (who’s crimes are obvious to anyone with a functioning brain. God have they fucked up our world!), then rounding up the criminal bankster class and hanging a few of those criminals and then we offer these criminal corporations an amnesty plan to bring back the bucks AND the jobs from overseas before we start seizing their stateside assets to force the issue. Then we should change some laws, like the bankruptcy laws that prevent the discharging of student loans, for instance. (No job(s) means no pay back. Maybe the madness ends then…) Talk about a honey trap!! (Slavery ended in 1865 I thought but DEBT SLAVERY seems to be alive and well right here, right now…) There are many other laws that need changing as well. Again anything favoring banks and that class of criminals should be changed ASAP and by force if need be – the banksters are especially dangerous to the future of mankind. The Bible even warns us against them…
    Anyway, I’m sure I’m overlooking all kinds of other villains (both real and imagined) but I have a feeling that once we get started with these…nasty but necessary deeds, I’ll bet these targeted individuals and corporations either shape up or they’ll ship out – right out of business.

  • Norbert

    Assertion: the average age of a worker being paid minimum wage is 36. First question: what is meant by “average”? Is it the statistical mean (sum of the ages of all minimum wage earners divided by the number of minimum wage earners)? Is it the median (the midpoint of the set of all minimum wage earners ordered by age)? Or the mode (the most frequently occurring age in the set of all minimum age earners)? The distinction is important.

    If, by average, the author meant the mean: by how much does the number of retirees being employed as greeters at Wal-Mart skew the average?

    If, by average, the author meant the median, It might indicate a complete failure of the educational system (not teaching life skills that’d increase earning potential).

    If, by average, the author meant the mode, it might indicate a complete failure of government economic policies causing labor to be too expensive, which might incent employers to relocate operations “elsewhere”.

    Your opinions may vary.

  • Derek

    All I have to say is what’s the difference between earning 100$ while paying 1$ for a coke and earning 1000$ while paying 10$ for a coke? When the minimum wage is increased businesses will be forced to increase their price points to remain solvent meaning we as a nation will experience inflation. That means it’ll change nothing but make the banks break from loss of purchasing power and we’ll go into a price/inflation shock. But what do I know, I’m only a business economics professional.

    • Josh Hollandsworth

      For a “business economics professional”, you sure are… interesting for thinking multiplication defines raises in minimum wage vs prices. There has never been a time where inflation caused by raising the minimum wage was not greatly outpaced by the increased purchasing power of the working class. And inflation exists without doing that, either. Minimum wage has around a third of the purchasing power that it did in the 70’s, while the prices of many necessary items and services has risen by far more.

      Do you believe that nobody who works minimum wage should be able to survive off of 40 hours of work per week? And if not, then why have one at all?

  • Shavershian

    The story of the paddles and Wall of Shame was broken by the Miami New Times, and can be found here:

    The CEO of the company is Gil Neuman. Kent Security is based in Miami.