By the Numbers: Minimum Wage in the United States

By Torey Van Oot
|  Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014  |  Updated 1:07 PM EDT
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Senate Republicans blocked a Democrat-backed bill seeking to raise the federal minimum wage Wednesday, delivering the latest blow in the ongoing political fight over how much low-wage workers should be paid.

The bill, which would have raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 over more than two years, fell six votes short of the threshold it needed to advance Wednesday.

The debate over the minimum wage is heating up in statehouses and campaign trails across the country, as both parties seek to make the case that they are best poised to boost the bottom line for the economy and the country's workers. In March, Connecticut became the first state to enact a law to increase the state's minimum rate for hourly workers to $10.10.

Obama, who has called on Congress to raise the federal rate, was scheduled to speak on the matter Wednesday afternoon.

Supporters say the time is right to increase wages for the lowest-paid workers across the country. Critics of the increases argue that such measures create hardship for businesses -- possibly leading employers to hire fewer workers --  and the economy as a whole.

Here's a look at some key figures in the debate over wages in America:

$7.25 - The current federal hourly minimum wage. 

3.6 million - The number of hourly workers age 16 and up making at or below the federal minimum wage in 2012 -- about 4.7 percent of the United States' 75.3 million hourly paid workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 2 million of those workers make below the minimum wage because their jobs qualify for one of a number of exemptions.

$15,080 - The annual salary, before taxes, of a minimum-wage worker who logs 40 hours a week.

$1,256 - Monthly salary, before taxes, for that same worker.

$21,008 - The annual salary, before taxes, of a worker logging 40 hours at an hourly rate of $10.10.

$1,616 - The monthly salary, before taxes, for that same worker.

$879.20 - Average monthly cost of food for a family of four, according to USDA estimates for January 2014.

$2,912 - Annual cost of gas for the average U.S. household in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

$3,816 - The average rent for a Manhattan apartment in February 2014, according to Manhattan Rental Market Report. The median monthly cost of rent nationwide was $845 in 2011, according to the American Housing Survey.

500,000 - The estimated decrease in jobs nationwide if the federal minimum wage is bumped to $10.10 an hour, according to a February Congressional Budget Office report. The report also found that 16.5 million workers could see their wages increase by 2016, lifting an estimated 900,000 people out of poverty.

21 - The number of states with a minumum wage higher than $7.25 on the books (Washington, D.C., also exceeds the federal minimum), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen states have a minimum wage that is the same as the federal level, while four have set a rate below the federal minimum. Five states have no minimum wage.

34 - The number of states considering legislation to raise the minimum wage in 2014, according to NCLS.

$9.32 - The hourly minimum in Washington state, which is home to the highest base wage currently in effect. The rate is adjusted for inflation annually. 

$5.15 - The lowest state minimum wage for hourly workers, a rate on the books in Georgia and Wyoming (some states have lower rates in place for workers in professions with tips).

43.8 - the percentage of minimum-wage-or-less earners with jobs in food preparation and serving related occupations, according to BLS figures. More than 1.5 million workers in the field are paid salaries at or below the minimum wage before tips.

1938 - The year the federal minimum wage was instituted. At the time, it was set at 25 cents an hour.

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