The EPI also found that almost half, about 47 percent, of the people who earn minimum wage are full-time employees working at least 35 hours per week. Another 36 percent work between 20 and 34 hours per week, Hall said. Only 17 percent of minimum wage earners work less than 20 hours a week. Among those that would benefit, more than half (54.2 percent) are part of families that earn less than $40,000 per year, and a quarter have an annual family income of less than $20,000.
“It is clear that the bulk of minimum wage workers are mid- or full-time adult employees, not teenagers or part-timers," Hall said. Part of the reason misperceptions about minimum-wage earners persist is that those who oppose the measure want to “diminish earning minimum wage as a sign of poverty,” said Hall. “If you can characterize minimum wage earners as teenagers who just want the latest jeans,” raising the minimum wages doesn’t seem as important, he added.
Hall and his colleagues also have found a gender gap in terms of who benefits from minimum-wage increases. Although the proposal would help both men and women, according to Hall it will “disproportionately impact working women,” because women are more likely than men to earn minimum wage. EPI researchers estimate that almost 60 percent of those affected by the president’s proposal would be women.
The proposed minimum wage hike would also help workers across all races and ethnicities. Just over half (53.1 percent) of those impacted are white, non-Hispanic workers. A quarter (25.2 percent) are Hispanic, 14.8 percent are non-Hispanic African-Americans, and 6.9 percent are Asian or another race.
“Conversations around minimum wage are informed by perceptions about people who live in poverty,” Hall said. “It’s important to make sure that we operate from a place of actual information and not stereotypes when we talk about who will benefit,” he added. The people who will benefit most are by and large white women who work full time and whose families live on less than $40,000 a year, he said.
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