Low Wages in the US: Who Makes Less than $17 per hour?

The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour for 15 years. That‘s $290 a week or $15,000 a year. And millions of workers–domestic caregivers, farmworkers, student workers, tipped wage workers, workers with disabilities–are not even entitled to $7.25 per hour. These are subminimum wage workers, and they deserve more. Explore our maps below to better understand how creating a universal minimum wage and raising it to $17 per hour would benefit more than 39 million workers–23 percent of the workforce–and read our full report.

Raising the minimum wage and ending subminimum wages would benefit millions of workers.

Our maps below illustrate how many people in the country make less than $17 per hour, highlighting the huge numbers of workers stuck at low and subminimum wages. The darker the color, the higher the concentration of low-wage workers. Click each thumbnail on the right to see the impact on various demographics.*


  1. Data by state: While the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009, and at $2.13 per hour since 1991 for tipped wage workers, many states and cities have increased their minimum wages. As the wage floor rises in an area, it lifts wages for most workers.

    These differences are reflected in the proportion of workers who make less than $17 per hour. For example, the minimum hourly wage in California is $16 as of January 1, 2024. As a result, a smaller proportion of workers in that state make less than $17 per hour compared to the national average of 23%. California is also a state without a subminimum tipped wage, so tipped wage jobs pay the same minimum wage. And farmworkers are supposed to make the state minimum wage. Other states, like Mississippi, follow federal standards and as a result have a subminimum tipped wage of $2.13 per hour and do not extend minimum wage laws to farmworkers. For more information on state labor policies, including wages, visit Best and Worst States to Work in America 2023.

  2. This data is a reflection of what percentage, or number, of each demographic group makes less than $17 per hour. Oxfam data does not project workers who would benefit from a raise in the wage to $17 per hour beyond 2024.
  3. Oxfam’s map includes all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. We use the term “state” to refer to all 52 states, districts, and territories.

* Oxfam data is sourced from the US Census, specifically the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) from the American Community Survey (ACS), and follows its racial/ethnic classification. For gender, respondents to the survey self-identify their sex as either male or female. And for race/ethnicity, respondents can choose between “Asian American or Other Pacific Islander,” “Black or African American,” “American Indian or Alaskan Native,” or “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin”. Whiteness is typically measured by those who check “White” in the racial box and “Not of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” in the ethnicity box. This data is also a reflection of what people self-report as their income, their age, and their familial status (whether or not they are parents). View full spreadsheets of the data.


The Oxfam Minimum Wage Model sources microdata from the 5-year Census American Community Survey (ACS-PUMS), and employs Current Population Survey (CPS-ORG) March data as formatted and made available by CEPR.

Oxfam.org Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+