As Texans, we pride ourselves on working hard and being self-sufficient. But too few Texans and their families earn enough to escape working poverty. Nearly 2.4 million workers, or 1 in 4 private sector employees in the state, would receive a pay increase if the state adopted a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour in 2016. That includes 400,000 Texans who make at or below the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour—more than any other state—and they all need a raise.
A full-time job paying minimum wage provides an annual income of only $15,080, which is far below the minimum needed to support an individual, let alone a family. Workers living in Austin or Houston need an income of more than $28,000 a year to meet the basic expenses of housing, food, transportation, and health care. The situation becomes even more challenging for workers trying to support a family.
The leading misconception about minimum wage workers in Texas is that most are teenagers—which couldn’t be further from the truth. Workers earning minimum wage are in their prime working years, and close to 50 percent live in households with kids. 43 percent have at least some college education, and 77 percent have a high school credential. They are important drivers of the state’s economy, working in all sectors. But they don’t earn nearly enough to get by.
Tomorrow the House Committee on Business and Industry will hear seven bills related to raising the state’s minimum wage. This is an important step toward giving 2.4 million Texans a much-needed pay raise, and CPPP recommends the following measures:
- Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, with certain exemptions for small businesses
- Adjust the minimum wage by tying it to the consumer price index
- Repeal the state law prohibiting localities from setting wage standards, and
- Encourage municipalities to create local living wage standards in line with cost of living
Texas ranks among the worst states for working families, with 38 percent earning less than $47,000 per year for a family of four. In Texas we believe that hard work means self-sufficiency, but working full-time should pay more than $15,000 a year. Learn more about the benefits of raising the minimum wage in our new analysis, It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage in Texas.
Check out our minimum wage facts sheets for Texas’ largest counties (PDF):