Pay hikes lift lowest-paid workers 

Hospitality workers are the lowest-paid employees but have reversed much of the wage inequality over the past four years. Pay has increased nearly 30% on average, compared to 20% increase in the highest-earning category in each state.


National News

January 15, 2024 - 3:22 PM

A worker cleans outside of an In-N-Out Burger restaurant in San Francisco. Recent raises for low-wage workers have reversed a lot of the wage inequality that has been growing for decades, even in states that did nothing to shore up the minimum wage. Photo by (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

Pay hikes over the past four years have lifted the wages of people who work in hospitality — the nation’s lowest-paid industry — nearly 30% on average, reversing much of the wage inequality that has been growing for decades in the United States.

In 40 states, even those that haven’t raised their minimum wage beyond the $7.25 federal floor, the recent pay jumps outpaced those of earners in each state’s highest-paying industry, usually energy, technology or the federal government.

The lowest-wage industry in every state is leisure and hospitality, a category that includes restaurants, bars and hotels. Those lowest-earning workers got bigger percentage raises than the highest earners, averaging a 29% boost between mid-2019 and mid-2023, a Stateline analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics quarterly data shows.