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Which states have minimum wages below the federal minimum wage?


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What: According to the Department of Labor, the federal minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour. Of the 45 states that have enacted minimum wage laws, these five have state wages below the federal wage:

Georgia: $5.15
Wyoming: $5.15
Minnesota: $6.15 for large employer; $5.25 for small employer
Arkansas: $6.25
Colorado: $7.24

Why: Some states set minimum wage laws above or below the federal minimum. In some states, like Minnesota, most employees are entitled to receive the higher wage. But some occupations - like domestic workers, babysitters, seasonal employees, or workers from a local business that doesn’t qualify as participating in interstate commerce - are exempt from federal wage laws. In some of these cases, workers are paid the state’s minimum wage.

Get this: On July 24, 2009, the federal government raised the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. That move helped an estimated 4.5 million workers. But according to the Economic Policy Institute, an individual earning $7.25 an hour in a standard work year would earn an annual income of $14,500. That’s below the 2009 federal poverty level of $14,570 for a family of two.

Learn more about the difficulties involved with climbing out of poverty by listening to today’s story on Marketplace.

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