One in four employees in the US earns less than $17

According to the latest report by the non-profit organization Global Oxfam, entitled The low-wage crisis, 2024more than 39 million workers in the United States face the harsh reality of surviving on incomes that do not exceed $17 per hour. This figure represents approximately 23% of the country’s workforce, highlighting a critical situation in terms of income distribution.

The study details that a large portion of these workers, which include domestic workers, farmers, waiters and people with disabilities, do not even earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. This situation is aggravated for women and communities of color, particularly African Americans and Latinos, who make up a disproportionately high proportion of those affected by low wages and the lack of updated wage policies.

Global Oxfam highlights that while the national average for low-wage workers is 23%, this figure rises significantly to 32% for African Americans and 33% for Latinos. The report also highlights significant variations at the state level: the District of Columbia has the lowest percentage of low-wage workers (8%), in contrast to states such as Mississippi, where more than 33% of the workforce earns the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Economic crisis

Kaitlyn Henderson, the report’s author and senior researcher at Oxfam America, underscores the importance of addressing this economic crisis that disproportionately affects women of color, who make up the majority of low-wage workers nationwide.

In addition, it urges the US Congress to pass urgent measures, such as the proposed Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to a minimum of $17 per hour, thus ensuring that workers can meet their basic needs in today’s economy.

This comprehensive study, which included data from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, also reveals the plight of workers on tipped wages, whose compensation has remained stagnant at $2.13 an hour for more than three decades. Global Oxfam warns that more than 53% of these workers do not earn $17 an hour, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive reforms to US labor policies. @mundiario

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