CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - When acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris asks a room full of low-wage workers around the country if anyone "had to skip a bill, or make the tough decision between paying for food or rent, medicine or school supplies," nearly every hand went up.
Like others Harris has met with around the country, these workers face hardships in not being able to make ends meet on their current income.
The low-wage workers here in Cincinnati will also have a chance to sit down with the acting secretary on March 20 to join in a national conversation on raising the federal minimum wage.
Last month, President Obama proposed raising the federal minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour by 2015. Harris plans more minimum wage roundtables in the coming weeks.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics has released a report titled "Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2012." The report shows that 75.3 million workers in the United States age 16 and over were paid at hourly rates, representing 59 percent of all wage and salary workers. Among those paid by the hour, 1.6 million earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. About 2 million had wages below the federal minimum.
The report also shows that nearly one-half of those earning at or below the federal minimum wage is at least 25 years old, and women make up nearly two-thirds of those earning at or below the federal minimum wage. More than a third of those earning at or below the current federal minimum wage is working full-time. Finally, 15 percent of those earning at or below the federal minimum wage is African-American, and one-fifth is Latino or Hispanic.
Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris has issued the following statement about the report:
"Workers earning the federal minimum wage have not had a raise in nearly four years. As the report makes clear, many are working adults with full-time jobs, and we know that some low-wage workers are holding down more than one job."