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Study finds a third of American workers earn less than $15 an hour, or about $31,000 a year

Over 50 million US workers make less than $15 per hour, according to a new Oxfam America report. Report author Kaitlyn Henderson said that pay “is just not livable,” especially with high US inflation.

These workers, whose annual income is less than $31,200, are disproportionately women and people of color, the study found.

Some 47% of Black workers and 46% of Hispanic workers make less than $15 an hour, compared with 26% of White workers. Some 40% of female workers earn less than that threshold, compared with 25% of male workers. Half of the women of color in the workforce make less than $15 an hour, as do nearly 58% of single parents according to the report.

“It’s shameful that at a time when many US companies are boasting record profits, some of the hardest working people in this country, especially people who keep our economy and society functioning are struggling to get by and falling behind,” said Kaitlyn Henderson, the study’s author and senior research adviser at Oxfam America.

The report is one of the latest efforts to push for raising the federal minimum wage above the current $7.25 an hour, where it has been since 2009. Many worker advocates would like to see the threshold increased to $15 an hour, which they say is a first step to creating a more livable wage.

Mississippi had the highest share of people making less than $15 per hour among the states and DC, at 45.3% for the state. Puerto Rico had a higher share than any state in the analysis, with 76.5% of its workers making less than this amount.

Henderson said the map shows that “where you live really determines whether or not you’re going to be able to afford the cost of living.”

California and Washington as well as DC have smaller shares of their workforces earning less than $15 an hour compared to the rest of the US. Soaring inflation, which has pushed up the prices of food, housing, gasoline and other necessities, has made it even more difficult for lower-income families to survive on their wages, Oxfam America said.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: PBS.ORG

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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