Idaho Leads Nation In Minimum-Wage Workers

By Emilie Ritter Saunders

There’s a larger share of Idahoans working minimum wage jobs than any other state in the country. That unwanted distinction is from new Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Idaho and Vermont were the only two states – plus Washington D.C. -- to see an increase in their share of workers earning minimum wage last year.

The Labor Department reports 7.7 percent of Idaho’s hourly workers earned the minimum wage in 2012, that’s up from 5 percent in 2011.

One reason for the increase, says the Department, is that three in four new jobs created in Idaho last year were in the minimum wage-saturated service sector.

John McAllister is chief deputy director of Idaho’s labor department…

MCALLISTER: “We’re doing everything we can to help with economic development efforts, that’s how we’re going to get people off minimum wage.”

Idaho has one of the lowest minimum wages in the west at $7.25 an hour. It hasn’t changed since 2009. In his State of the Union address, President Obama pushed his plan to increase the federal minimum to $9 an hour.

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