Just Getting By?

Just Getting By? Income Dependence on Minimum Wage Jobs

  • Bradley Schiller, University of Nevada-Reno

This study examines the earnings and characteristics of adults who earn the minimum wage. Contrary to popular belief, the author finds that only a small number of these adults are the primary breadwinner in their family. For instance, among those with children, nearly half had a spouse who earned more than $40,000 a year; another 16 percent had spouses earning between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. In 8 out of 10 of these families, the minimum wage accounts for less than twenty percent of household income. In other words, the majority of adult minimum wage earners are providing a small supplement to the income of a higher earning spouse.