Idaho's hourly workers making minimum wage – $7.25 an hour – jumped to the highest percentage in the nation in 2012.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics estimated that 31,000 of Idaho’s 404,000 hourly workers were paid the minimum wage last year, an increase of 12,000 from 2011, when 5 percent of the state’s hourly workforce made the minimum wage or less. The Gem State was 30th in 2011.
2012 had the highest percentage of minimum wage workers the state has recorded in the decade that the bureau has been making estimates, according to a news release from the Idaho Department of Labor. The previous high was in 2010 at 7.6 percent, which ranked 16th among the states.
Three of every four jobs the Idaho economy created last year were in the service sector, where many of the minimum wage jobs are.
Nationally, 4.7 percent of all hourly workers made the minimum wage or less in 2012, down from 5.2 percent the year before.
Idaho led the 16 states and the District of Columbia that posted increases in the percentage of their hourly workforce at or below the minimum wage. Idaho’s increase from 2011 was 63 percent followed by 25 percent in Vermont and the District of Columbia.
The rest of the states saw their percentage of minimum wage workers decline.