Nearly 1/3 of All Workers Paid Less Than $15 per Hour

Posted by Matin Varshochi in CareerJune 27, 2022(Last Updated July 29, 2022)4 min read
Key Takeaways
  • A study conducted by Oxfam found that 32% of all workers are getting paid less than $15 an hour. 
  • Of those earning below $15 an hour, 25% are Caucasian males, 40% are White females, 46% are Hispanic, and 47% are African-American.
  • As these wages make it very difficult for people to be financially stable, below are some techniques that can be used to help raise your living wage.
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A study conducted by Oxfam observed the minimum wage workers earn across the country and found that nearly 1/3, or 32% of all workers are compensated at an hourly wage below $15. With the cost of living rising due to the economy's current conditions, now is a crucial time to try and increase your working wage to ensure your disposable income does not lower.


Startling Statistics Regarding Underpaid Workers


There were many concerning statistics within the study, with the main being 52 million workers struggling to get by working for less than $15 an hr. The categories below display the alarmingly high number of people who are underpaid workers. 


Race and Gender


This study concluded that 25% of Caucasian males earn below $15 an hour compared to 40% of Caucasian females. This pay gap indicates pay inequality between males and females, as a higher percentage of females are underpaid compared to their male counterparts.  


In addition, 46% of Hispanic workers and 47% of Black workers are also getting paid under $15 an hour, which is alarming as almost half of these racial minority workers are underpaid compared to Caucasians.


Furthermore, in half of the states, 60% of women of color are receiving less than $15 per hour, showcasing another example of how racial minorities are the ones who receive the least amount of compensation for their work. 



Lastly, 57% of single parents, or 11.2 million, are raising their children while earning under $15 an hour. This large value infers that many single parents face financial difficulties when paying for living expenses, resulting in lower disposable income for other unexpected expenses.


Image Credit: diy13 /


Why So Many People Are Paid so Little


Many people are paid so little because various states impose different minimum wage rates. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Regardless of the rates implemented by various states, as they all exceed the federal minimum wage threshold, there are no repercussions for the low hourly minimum wage. 

Thus, as there have been no federal minimum wage increases since 2009 to account for inflation and other economic factors, it has led to many people being underpaid and struggling to make ends meet. 

How to Get Out of an Underpaid Situation


According to the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit Economic Policy Institute, raising pay raises to $15 an hour under the Raise the Wage Act could help 22 million receive a boost in their pay and have a reasonable wage and income in 2025. Oxfam's number of underpaid people is higher than 22 million because they take into account a broader range of workers, whereas the Economic Policy Institute does not. As 2025 is three years away, some steps can be taken now to increase your pay.

Ask for a Raise

With the cost of living rising, now is the time to ask your manager for a raise. However, it is important to note that asking for a raise in wage without valid reasons to back up your claim will most likely result in a failed attempt at a raise. 


Therefore, something you should mention to your employer when discussing a possible raise is your merit. Discuss how well and hard you work, the impact of your merit, and why your work ethic warrants a higher wage. 


Furthermore, another thing to discuss is inflation. With the current global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, inflation rates have risen substantially, resulting in a lower disposable income due to rising costs. Therefore, tell your manager that your raise should, at the least, match the inflation rate to ensure you maintain a similar disposable income.  


Lastly, research similar rates for your position to ensure you do not get lowballed by your employer. It is important to remember that you know how much you are worth, and if a raise or lack thereof is not up to the amount you value yourself at, then it is time to look at another job that will pay you fairly. 


Look for a Different Job 

If raise negotiations do not go the way you had anticipated, your main priority becomes searching for a job that will pay you a higher wage. To maximize your chances of receiving a call back from the places you apply, update your resume with your most recent relevant work experience.

If you wish to learn more about improving your resume, click here.


With the federal government giving each state the authority to dictate their minimum wages, this has led to some states, such as Florida, raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour. However, with some states having not raised their minimum wage to around $15 an hour, it is crucial to use the above methods to get yourself into a better financial situation.


Main Image Credit: John Gomez /

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