Wages: $15/hr (old)
Share of workers earning a wage of at least $15 per hour (in 2012 dollars). Data for 1980 through 2000 are based on surveys in those years but reflect income from the year prior, while data for 2012 represents a 2008-2012 average. Universe includes civilian noninstitutional full-time wage and salary workers ages 25-64. No data is reported for demographic subgroups with insufficient sample sizes. For more information, see the data and methods document. | National Equity Atlas Data & Methods: Technical Documentation

United States

Share of workers earning at least $15/hour by race/ethnicity:

Can all workers earn a living wage?

Why it matters

In an equitable economy, all workers would earn a living wage that allows them to meet their family’s basic needs. While the value of a living wage depends on family size and cost-of-living, many advocates are pushing for a $15 per hour minimum. Studies have found that companies can pay living wages and remain profitable, in part because paying higher wages reduces turnover and increases productivity.

Grow an equitable economy: Policies to ensure living wages for all

  • Raise the minimum wage at the local or state level through legislation or a ballot initiative
  • Enact living-wage laws that require government offices and contractors to pay living wages
  • Strengthen workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively for a living wage
  • Establish standards to ensure public investments in economic development and infrastructure to create living wage jobs

A Living Wage for Los Angeles’s Hotel Workers

In September 2014, the Los Angeles City Council approved a living wage ordinance that will raise the minimum wage for the city’s hotel workers to $15.37 an hour. The policy win resulted from a two-year advocacy campaign by community, labor, and civil rights groups to address the fact that despite a booming tourism industry, 40 percent of the city’s hotel workers live in poverty. Up to 13,000 low-income hotel workers, most of them women and people of color, will get a raise because of the ordinance, and advocates hope it builds momentum for a citywide minimum wage increase. Read more.