Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage has not changed in over a decade. Research on the subject has concluded positive income changes for millions of families without substantial job loss. The recent CBO report also found that 1 million would be pulled out of poverty, but that the job losses could be larger. To assist with state-level analyses on the topic, CUSP has available data on minimum wage levels in each state as well as information on minimum tipped wage levels.


Studies have investigated the impact of minimum wage increases for decades. While there is no set consensus on the employment impact, a number of studies have demonstrated positive effects from raising the minimum wage, including a reduction in poverty, income raises for millions of workers, as well as a reduction in suicides. One notable pre-print with data from 2020 showed that those in industries with many low wage jobs had the highest rates of excess mortality. A new preprint led by the CUSP team shows an association between living in a state with a $12 minimum wage or higher and reduced food insufficiency in all households during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those with children.

Increasing the minimum wage may also help to reduce racial disparities in income and wealth. Experts at Bankrate created a guide that provides current information about the racial wealth gap in the US and ways to build financial wealth despite the structural barriers that many Americans face. 


Despite being in some of the highest COVID-risk industries, those making the minimum wage do not make enough to cover basic necessities in most parts of the country. Additionally, those making tipped wages have seen a spike in harassment since the pandemic began.

CNBC details the struggles people face working in minimum wage jobs, frequently needing to sacrifice time with their children just to make ends meet. As one mother put it, “You can be doing everything right and it’s still not enough.”

Low income families face a difficult situation: work more hours and eligibility for SNAP benefits goes away while still needing that support. Full time work does not always pay enough, requiring families to then utilize food pantries. One worker and parent described to Liz Neisloss of GBH, “If I do more, the government takes everything away from me before I can make it off the government. So then it, it makes you feel stuck.”