The Democrats, their union supporters, and liberals in general are making a hard and concerted push for an increase in the minimum wage. President Obama mentioned the subject prominently in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night and even promised to take executive action to increase the minimum wage federal contractors must pay their workers starting in 2015. While Republicans and small business owners are sure to resist this push, it is important that everyone on both sides debates the issue with the correct facts. Much of what you hear about the minimum wage is completely untrue.
First, people should acknowledge that this rather heated policy discussion is over a very small group of people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are about 3.6 million workers at or below the minimum wage (you can be below legally under certain conditions). That is 2.5 percent of all workers and 1.5 percent of the population of potential workers. Within that small group, 31 percent are teenagers and 55 percent are 25 years old or younger. That leaves only about 1.1 percent of all workers over 25 and 0.8 percent of all Americans over 25 earning the minimum wage.
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