Last week the federal minimum wage rose to $6.55 an hour, increasing the annual earnings for a full-time minimum wage worker to $13,624. While it’s certainly the right move for Congress to raise the minimum wage for current workers, it raises an important question about retired workers. Take a look at our statistics page and you’ll see why: The average retired worker’s Social Security check is now less than that of a minimum wage worker.
According to a new report from the Century Foundation, two thirds of older Americans receive 50 percent or more of their income from Social Security and a stunning 21 percent receive all of their income from Social Security. These numbers are even higher for women and minorities. It is shocking that after a lifetime of hard work millions of retirees are living on less than the minimum wage.
And the federal minimum wage is just what its name implies – a bare minimum. Indeed, it is so low, that the Economic Policy Institute notes that 23 states have set their own higher minimum wage requirements. Shouldn’t older Americans relying on Social Security have more adequate incomes during their retirement?
To learn more about Social Security, take a look at the web sites for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and the National Academy of Social Insurance. For a fun perspective, take a look at the Social Security Opera.