Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

By W. Gardner Selby September 20, 2013

Crossfire anchor undershoots on Texans comprising one in 10 of the nation's minimum-wage workers

As of July 2012, Texans accounted for nearly one in 10 Americans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

On CNN’S Crossfire Sept. 18, 2013, from-the-left co-host Stephanie Cutter prefaced questions of Texas Gov. Rick Perry by saying: "One out of 10 minimum-wage workers in the U.S. live in Texas."

She undershot.

In 2012, according to Cheryl Abbot, a regional economist for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas workers paid at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour accounted for 452,000, or nearly 13 percent, of the nation’s 3,550,000 workers paid minimum wage or less.

"Another way of stating that is that in Texas, 7.5 (percent) of all hourly-paid workers were paid at or below the federal minimum wage," Abbot said by email.

The same year, Abbot said, nearly 12.7 million Texas workers in total amounted to 8 percent of the nation’s 155-million-strong labor force.

Abbot pointed us to a bureau chart showing each state’s share of workers earning minimum wage or less in 2012 — which showed, too, that Texas had far more workers in this dual category than the second-place state in this way, New York, which had 224,000 workers earning the minimum wage or less, equal to 6.3 percent of the nation’s workers in those pay categories.

Featured Fact-check

Nationally, Abbot said, some 75 million hourly workers accounted for 59 percent of all salaried and hourly paid workers. In Texas, the state’s 6 million hourly workers represented 57 percent of all wage and salary workers, she said.

To our inquiry, Austin economist Stuart Greenfield agreed with Abbot’s analysis, though he pointed out by telephone that strictly speaking, according to the bureau chart, nearly two in 10 of the country’s minimum-wage workers lived in Texas. That is, Texans accounted for 282,000 of 1,566,000 U.S. workers paid the minimum wage, according to the chart, with 170,000 Texans paid less than the minimum wage. The Texas share of U.S. minimum-wage-only workers, 18 percent, far outpaced the No. 2 state in this category, Pennsylvania, which was home to nearly 6 percent of such workers, according to the chart.

Also, Texas led other states with its 8.6 percent share of hourly U.S. workers paid below the minimum wage, though Florida landed a close second by having 8.3 percent of such hourly workers, the chart indicates.

Our ruling

Cutter said one of 10 minimum-wage workers in the U.S. lives in Texas.

Actually, 18 percent of U.S. workers paid the minimum wage in 2012 toiled in Texas, according to government figures, while Texas was home to 13 percent of the nation’s hourly employees paid minimum wage or less.

Since Cutter was arguing that Texas is not a land of plenty, the fact that she understated the state’s share of minimum-wage workers doesn’t short the Truth-O-Meter. We rate this claim as True.

Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by W. Gardner Selby

Crossfire anchor undershoots on Texans comprising one in 10 of the nation's minimum-wage workers

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up