The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Companies Pay Less than $15 per Hour to 52 Million U.S. Workers

Apr 11, 2022

One-third of U.S. workers, close to 52 million, earn less than $15 per hour ($31,200 per year), according to a new report from Oxfam America, an anti-poverty advocacy organization. Close to 90% of these workers are older than 20 years old, showing that these are not entry level jobs for young workers.

A big part of the workforce is paid even less than 15 dollars per hour. The federal minimum wage was set at $7.25 per hour, thirteen years ago, in 2009. And that is still the minimum wage in 20 states that never enacted a higher minimum wage law. Moreover, agricultural workers, domestic workers, workers with disabilities, workers who depend on tips, and student workers sometimes are paid even less, when there are no state or local regulations. The tipped wage workforce, about 4.3 million people, is stuck at $2.13 an hour federal minimum wage. Tipped workers, when the tips are included, have a median wage of $10.22. The bottom line is that the U.S. has no federal law or actual enforcement to stop companies from paying poverty wages.

Millions of these low-wage workers are parents, struggling to raise children on their poverty-level wages. For example, 11.2 million single workers with children earn less than $15.

And the living standards of workers earning those low wages are constantly being eroded due to the current record-breaking inflation rate of close to 8%, with the prices of essentials such as housing, food, and gasoline skyrocketing. So, a huge section of the workforce is daily struggling to make ends meet on wages that are losing against inflation big time.

While we are getting pushed down into the dirt, the companies report record profits, and their owners and managers have heavenly lifestyles. For example, last year, the average president of a company made close to 14 million dollars a year, while a federal minimum wage worker earned $15,080 a year. That is, an average president got 930 times more than a poverty-level wage worker. This disgusting difference in pay is nothing but a class war waged by the companies and their owners against workers to enrich themselves.