Mar 20, 2024

Question of the Day: What percent of hourly workers in the U.S. earn the federal minimum wage?

$7.25 per hour is the wage floor for most hourly workers. How common is that minimum wage?

Answer: 1.3% (the smallest percentage since data collection began in 1979)

A one dollar bill sitting upright on its edge.Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash



  • How does earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour compare to the living costs in different parts of the US?
  • How has the purchasing power of the federal minimum wage changed over time?
  • Many states have set their minimum wage higher than the federal rate. Explore the reasons behind this and discuss the impact on workers and businesses.


Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.


Behind the numbers (USA Facts):

  • As of 2022, 1.02 million hourly workers earned the federal minimum wage or less. That’s 1.3% of all hourly workers, the smallest percentage since data collection began in 1979. 
  • Since its establishment in 1938 at $0.25 an hour, Congress has increased the federal minimum wage 22 times, with the most recent increase to $7.25 occurring in July 2009. After adjusting for inflation, the federal minimum wage was highest in 1968, equating to $14.01 in 2023 dollars.


To give your students an edge when it comes to planning their finances, check out NGPF's Budgeting unit.


Attend NGPF Professional Developments and earn Academy Credits on your own time! Check out NGPF On-Demand modules.

About the Author

Ryan Wood

Ryan grew up with and maintains a love for learning. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a degree in Business Administration and worked in sports marketing for a number of years. After living in Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Minnesota, the call of education eventually brought Ryan back to his home state of Wisconsin where he was a Business and Marketing teacher for three years. In his free time he likes to spend time with his wife and daughter, play basketball, read, and go fishing. Now with NGPF, Ryan is excited to help teachers lead the most important course their students will ever take.

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