Minimum Wage Hike Would Have Big Impact in Utah

More than a quarter of Utah workers earn less than 150% of the minimum wage according to a new study.

Research from the Hamilton Project finds Utah is on the higher end of states with workers earning 150% of the minimum wage.

Utah is still in line with the federal minimum wage of $7.25, so 150% of that would be $10.88 per hour. 28.22% of Utah workers earn below that 150% level.

The Hamilton Project says hiking the minimum wage would have a real effect on wage earners across the country.

One area of focus in the debate is whether a minimum wage increase would actually affect many workers. Some skeptics have argued that only a very small share of workers actually receive the minimum wage, and furthermore, that many of those workers are not struggling adults, but rather teenagers from affluent families. Understanding the magnitude of the impact of a federal or state-level minimum wage increase on workers is an important first step in informing the policy debate. 

The argument that only a small share of workers is actually paid the minimum wage misses a key point: many of those who would be impacted by a raise in the minimum wage are actually low-wage workers making slightly above the minimum wage. In addition to this broader scope of the workforce, economist Arin Dube of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst points out that a shrinking share of low-wage workers is comprised of teenagers. His work shows that among those earning no more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 in 2011, fewer than a quarterwere teenagers. Among those earning less than $10 an hour, only 12 percent were teenagers, as compared to 26 percent in 1979