What are the annual earnings for a full-time minimum wage worker?

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Since it was first instituted in 1938, the federal minimum wage has established a floor for wages. While not every worker is eligible, it provides a minimum of earnings for the lowest-paid workers. 

Many states and even municipalities have their own minimum wages, including twenty that have rates higher than the federal minimum wage.

  • The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
  • A full-time minimum wage employee earns $15,080 annually.
  • In 2012, the poverty threshold for a single person was $11,945. For a family of four with two children it was $22,283.

An individual working full time at minimum wage will make enough to live above above the poverty line. However, if he or she is is the sole earner for a family of four, that income is only 65 percent of the federal poverty guideline.

U.S. Census Bureau, Poverty Thresholds by Size of Family and Number of Children (XLS) Accessed 7/9/2013
U.S. Dept. of Labor. Wages.  Accessed 7/12/2013
U.S. Dept. of Labor. Wage and Hour Division. Accessed 11/5 2013


Measures of Poverty
Poverty Thresholds and Guidelines

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There are two official measures of poverty issued annually by the federal government: Poverty thresholds from the Census Bureau and poverty guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.  Both of these measures are intended to identify the level of income necessary to meet basic needs.