Who earns the minimum wage in Minnesota?

4 findings about the nearly 250,000 Minnesotans who don't make more than $9.50 an hour.
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Nearly a quarter-million workers in Minnesota earn the minimum wage. Who do you think they are?

Teenagers and people waiting tables? A new state report shows you wouldn't be wrong to think that way, but you'd only have a slice of the picture.

The Department of Labor and Industry serves up a boatload of numbers in a document you can read here.

Here are a few highlights, though, that GoMN picked out about the state's minimum wage earners, focusing on their age, their education, and how many work in the food and beverage industry.

By the way, Minnesota's minimum wage is $9.50 an hour for most businesses. Under state law small companies (ones that do less than $500,000 worth of business per year) can pay wages as low as $7.75 an hour.

Age: Almost half are 25+

Yes, teenage employees are more likely to be paid the minimum wage. But they're not a huge part of the workforce. When you look at who makes the minimum, 29 percent are in their teens. And 54 percent are younger than 25.

On the other hand, that means 46 percent of those making $9.50 or less per hour are at least 25 years old.

In terms of gender, 60 percent of minimum wage earners are women and 40 percent are men.

Education: Of those 20 or older, 88 percent have a diploma

The vast majority of adults making the minimum wage have at least a high school education. The state's numbers show that among those 20 or older only 12 percent had not finished high school.

A majority of them – 59 percent – also had some college education.

Work: Fewer than one-third sell food and drinks

The 2016 figures show that 31 percent of the Minnesotans earning the minimum wage work with food or drinks. That's more than any other industry. 20 percent are in retail. Next comes manufacturing with 6 percent.

The state says 38 percent of the food and beverage workers qualified for overtime pay or tips or commissions (they abbreviate that as OTC).

Altogether, 18 percent of minimum wage earners also had some OTC pay.

If you look just at Minnesotans who prepare or serve food and drinks, 55 percent of them were paid the minimum wage last year.

Compared to inflation

Minnesota created a minimum wage in 1974. The recent hike to $9.50 has sent it well above the national minimum of $7.25. According to the folks at Labor and Industry, if you adjust for inflation Minnesota's wage is 6 percent higher now than it was in 1974, while the U.S. minimum is 27 percent lower.

Again, you can look over the full report here. It's actually only 27 pages and a lot of that is charts and graphs so it's not THAT much reading.

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