These states lead the way in low-wage workers

  • When it comes to the minimum wage, not every state is created equal.

    That's because a handful of U.S. states have a high share of hourly workers who earn the baseline federal wage or are paid rates that drop even below that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Across the country, about 4.3 percent of workers getting an hourly rate are earning either the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or less. But certain states have much higher shares of low-wage workers, such as Tennessee, which ranks as the country's leader when it comes to workers making the bare minimum.

    Most of the states with the highest percentages of low-wage workers are in the South or West, Oxfam America noted last week in a report.

    It's notable that three of the top nine states with the biggest percentages of low-wage hourly workers lack a state law establishing a baseline wage. (Only five states in the U.S. don't have their own minimum wage.)

    While the debate continues about raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, the number of Americans earning the baseline rate is at a 15-year high, according to the BLS. And it's no longer teenagers who make up the bulk of low-paid workers: About half of minimum-wage employees are between 35 to 64 years old.

    Read on to find out which states have the highest percentages of low-paid workers.