Fast food workers don’t have it easy. They face long shifts on their feet, spend hours every day dealing with impatient customers, and on top of all that the pay is generally lousy. The majority of fast food workers are paid minimum wage — but what, exactly, is minimum wage around the country? We did some research, and you may be surprised by how much it varies from state to state.
The statistics around minimum wage may shock you, in fact. First of all, we're not talking about teenagers with after-school jobs here. According to The New York Times, the average age of minimum wage workers is 35. Eighty-eight percent are 20 or older, 50 percent are older than 30, and one-third are 40 or older (this is up substantially from the 1970s, when nearly 30 percent of minimum wage earners were teenagers). About half of minimum wage earners work full-time jobs, about one-quarter have kids, and 55 percent of them are women.
As is often the case when there are both state and federal laws governing the same thing, the amount of money that minimum wage workers get paid can be a bit confusing. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 (although there’s a big push to boost it to $10.10), and in states where the state minimum wage is lower than the federal minimum wage (only Georgia and Wyoming currently fit that bill), the federal minimum wage applies. That said, in 2013 nearly two million workers earned wages below the federal minimum, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the restaurant industry, the tipped minimum wage is very important, because it dictates what servers earn before tips. This amount bottoms out at $2.13 per hour. When tips are added in, the final amount should reach the minimum wage, and if it doesn’t, the employer is expected to make up the difference. This last point is crucial in fast food restaurants, where the tips are often much less than at traditional sit-down restaurants (where servers often make far more than minimum wage once tips are included). In the fast food industry, because employers make up the difference, most workers’ earnings are right at the minimum wage. Read on to learn what the lowest paid fast food workers (and all minimum wage employees) earn hourly around the country.
Georgia, Wyoming (Because this amount is below the federal minimum wage, minimum wage earners are paid $7.25 per hour).
Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin
This article was originally published March 18, 2015.