5 of the Most Surprising Jobs That Pay Minimum Wage

Source: David Ryder/Getty Images

David Ryder/Getty Images

The federal minimum wage rate is $7.25, and it has been the same amount since 2009. How often does it change? Well, historically, it can increase after only one year or it could take a decade. It depends on inflation, living costs, politics, and a number of other factors. Here are the increases we’ve seen over the past 35 years:

  • $2.90, as of January 1, 1979
  • $3.10, as of January 1, 1980
  • $3.35, as of January 1, 1981
  • $3.80, as of April 1, 1990
  • $4.25, as of April 1, 1991
  • $4.75, as of October 1, 1996
  • $5.15, as of September 1, 1997
  • $5.85, as of July 24, 2007
  • $6.55, as of July 24, 2008
  • $7.25, as of July 24, 2009

Several states have made recent increases to the statewide minimum wage, however. Some of these increases were only small ones — like in Arizona, Oregon, and Washington, for instance, where the minimum wage rose by 15 cents. Other increases were more significant — like in Massachusetts, where the minimum wage rose by $1.

According to the Department of Labor, as of 2015, “The District of Columbia has the highest minimum wage at $9.50/hour. The states of Georgia and Wyoming have the lowest minimum wage ($5.15/hour) of the 45 states that have a minimum wage requirement.” In Georgia and Wyoming, however, the federal rate generally applies.

Here is a breakdown of each state, and its minimum wage situation as of January 2015:

Greater than federal MW Equals federal MW of $7.25 Less than federal MW No MW Required
Arkansas, Maine, New Mexico – $7.50 Iowa Georgia – $5.15 Alabama
Missouri – $7.65 Idaho Wyoming – $5.15 Lousiana
Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii,  – $7.75 Indiana Mississippi
West Virginia, Maryland, Nebraska,  Minnesota- $8.00 Kansas South Carolina
Arizona, Florida, Montana – $8.05 Kentucky Tennessee
Ohio – $8.10 North Carolina
Michigan – $8.15 North Dakota
Colorado – $8.23 New Hampshire
Nevada, Illinois – $8.25 Oklahoma
New Jersey – $8.38 Pennsylvania
South Dakota – $8.50 Texas
New York – $8.75 Utah
California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island – $9.00 Virginia
Connecticut, Vermont – $9.15 Wisconsin
Oregon – $9.25
Washington – $9.47
Washington, DC – $9.50
Total: 29 states plus DC 14 states 2 states 5 states
 Source: DOL.gov

With so much talk about the minimum wage, it leaves people wondering about this lower-earning group: Who are they? What types of jobs do minimum wage workers have?

Some of the general assumptions about minimum wage jobs are correct — many of these jobs are involve unskilled labor, they can be obtained with minimal education (more than nine out of 10 minimum wage workers are not four year college graduates), and a significant portion of minimum wage jobs are held by teens. But there are also some minimum wage jobs don’t fit into the general mold.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

You may be surprised to find out some of the jobs that actually pay minimum wage. These jobs require unique skills, labor, or training that one would think would result in higher pay. Would you expect these jobs to pay minimum wage?

  1. Gaming dealers: Gaming dealers earn median wages of $10.52 per hour per estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the lowest 10th percentile earning only $7.52. These workers often have to go through training programs initiated by the casinos, and they may even be sent to a “gaming school” for a short-term period.
  2. Lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers: These workers are trusted with the safety of others, but their pay certainly doesn’t reflect that responsibility. These workers earn median wages of only $10.05 per hour, and those in the lowest 10th percentile earn only $7.87 per hour.
  3. Cashiers: The median hourly wage for a cashier is only $9.28, but those in the lowest 10th percentile earn $7.89 per hour. These workers have to be skilled in customer service, basic equipment operations, and in some cases, inventory management.
  4. Models: Surprised to see the job of a model on the list? Well, unless a model has made a name for him/herself, it can be tough for them to earn high wages. The BLS reports a model’s median hourly pay at $12.79, but models in the lowest 10th percentile only earn $7.91 per hour.
  5. Manicurists and pedicurists: Manicurists and pedicurists earn median hourly wages of $9.30 per hour, with those in the lowest 10th percentile earning $8.03 per hour. However, these workers generally have to complete a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program, and pass written and practical examinations to receive licensing from a state board.

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