Characteristics of the Minimum-Wage Workforce

n this Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 photo, freshly made pastries appear on display for travelers at the Food Network Kitchen at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Dining-on-the-go is soaring at the airport where travelers can dine at a restaurant inspired by a test kitchen. The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is the first outpost in the nation to offer the Food Network Kitchen, designed to look much like what you would see in the cable networkís test kitchen: a butcher block bar counter, subway tiling, stainless steel surfaces and pots and pans hanging in a row behind a cash register. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) (National Journal)

The Labor Department has released figures that reveal much about economic differences among minimum-wage earners, especially people of color and Americans from various socioeconomic classes.

Among statistics summarized from a 2012 survey of characteristics for at- or below-minimum-wage workers:

50%  are 24 or younger.

65%   are women.

31%   are women 24 or younger.

20%   are Hispanic or Latino (Estimates by race do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all races; persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race; the white total is listed as 78%).

15%   are African-American.

3.3%   are Asian.

44%   work in food service, followed by 16% in sales.

72%   have a high school diploma or higher, including 8% with a bachelor's degree.