Thursday AM April 9th, 2009

The Dallas office of the Bureau of Labor Statistics has released a report on minimum wage workers in Texas. Ed Mayberry reports.

The federal minimum wage is now $6.55 per hour, having increased by 70 cents per hour last July.  Bureau economist Cheryl Abbot says some 4.7 per cent of all hourly-paid workers in Texas earned the minimum wage last year.

“Well, the number of workers earning the federal minimum or less stood at 262,000 here in the state of Texas last year — seventh in terms of the percentage of the work force earning the minimum wage or less.”

Ed: “How does that compare to previous reports?”

“Well, both the number and the percentage have gone up in each of the last two years, and that’s primarily because the federal minimum wage went up in both of those years.”

Texas workers making minimum wage tracked downward from 466,000 workers in 1998 to 173,000 in 2006.  But as the minimum wage increased in 2007 and 2008, both the number and percentage of workers receiving minimum wage rose.

“We just went up to $6.55 back in 2008, and that followed the increase in 2007 to $5.85.”

Ed: “Anything surprising out of this that came to your attention?”

“I wouldn’t really call it surprising.  We pretty much tracked what the U.S. did.  But we’re still pretty high on that list among all the different states.  And a big part of that is because more than half the states now have minimum wage standards that exceed the federal level, and Texas is not one of those.”

Abbot says Texas had the largest number of minimum wage workers among all the states, accounting for 11.8 per cent of the national total in 2008. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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