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Eye On Boise

Idaho falls from 1st to 9th in nation for % of workers earning minimum wage or less

Idaho, which not long ago ranked first in the nation for the percentage of its workers earning minimum wage or less, has dropped to 9th. “It’s a pretty good bump,” said Bob Uhlenkott, chief of research for the Idaho Department of Labor. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics today released 2014 data showing that the percentage of Idaho workers making the minimum wage or less dropped to 5.1 percent, down from 7.1 percent the year before and 7.7 percent in 2012.

In 2013, Idaho ranked second in the nation for its percentage of minimum-wage workers, behind only Tennessee; in 2012, Idaho was No. 1. For 2014, Tennessee again holds the No. 1 rank at 6.8 percent, followed by Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Indiana. At the other end of the spectrum, Oregon and Washington tied for the lowest percentage of workers earning the federal minimum wage or less, both at 1 percent; both have state minimum wages that exceed the federal level, while Idaho matches the federal minimum wage.

Of the 412,000 workers paid hourly wages in Idaho in 2014, 12,000 earned exactly the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and 9,000 earned less. Nationally, just 3.9 percent of all workers earn minimum wage or less.

In 2003, just 3 percent of Idaho’s workers earned the minimum wage or less.

Of the 21,000 Idaho workers earning the minimum wage or less in 2014, 57 percent were women.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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