Who are Hawaii’s minimum wage workers?
There’s been a lot of talk in the media about minimum wage workers in Hawai‘i this year. It’s natural to wonder who they’re actually talking about. Who is a typical minimum wage worker? How old are they? What kind of job do they have? Here are some answers* to such questions:
There are over 88,000 minimum wage workers in Hawai‘i, making up 14 percent of our total workforce. Three out of 5 (60 percent) of them are women.
Less than 10 percent of them are teenagers. Three out of 5 (60 percent) are over the age of 25, and over a quarter (28 percent) are at least 40 years old. In other words, the vast majority of minimum wage workers in Hawai‘i are not trainees.
While almost 2 in 5 minimum wage workers are Asian, their likelihood of earning the minimum wage is close to the state average. In contrast, almost one-third of Pacific Islander workers make the minimum wage, as do one-fifth of Hispanic workers.
More than 1 in 5 (22 percent) minimum wage workers in Hawai‘i are parents. In fact, 1 in 6 (17 percent) single parents earn the minimum wage.
Just over 2 in 5 (41 percent) minimum wage workers have a high school degree. A slightly larger proportion (43 percent) have at least some college education.
Over one-quarter (28 percent) of minimum wage workers in Hawai‘i work in restaurants and food service, but fewer than 1 in 9 (11 percent) are tipped workers. Another one-fifth (20 percent) of minimum wage workers work in the retail sector.
Other types of workers who are likely to make the minimum wage are in art, entertainment and recreational services as well as agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting.
So who would be a typical minimum wage worker in Hawai‘i? Here’s a description:
Between 25 and 39 years old
With a high school degree
Working in a restaurant or food service
Living in Nu‘uanu or Kalihi
*In this analysis, we look at workers in Hawai‘i who are reported to earn up to $1 above the minimum wage, in order to control for measurement error. If we measured only those making exactly $10.10, we’d be missing significant numbers of them due to variations in the data.
Source: Economic Policy Institute Minimum Wage Simulation Model using data from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Congressional Budget Office. Dollar values adjusted by projections for CPI-U in CBO 2018.