More than 60 million people in U.S. households depend on the earnings of a low-wage worker, according to a new report released on Tuesday.
The research shows that most low-wage workers are frequently the primary breadwinners in their families and they are not, as commonly thought, teenagers with few skills still living with their parents, according to the report by Oxfam America and the Economic Policy Institute.
There are 25 million low-wage workers in the country, but the figure balloons to 60.6 million by adding the number of people living in their households, including more than 15 million children.
“Mothers and fathers willing to work hard in our country should be able to earn enough money to sustain their families and put food on the table for their children," said Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America.
Offenheiser used the report as a call to raise the minimum wage.
The report found that the low-wage workers contribute, on average, more half of the family budget (56 percent).
As a consequence, most of these families are living in or near poverty.
“Millions of workers and their families are struggling to make ends meet because we’ve let the minimum wage stagnate for too long," said David Cooper, economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute.
"There’s no need for it — we can boost family incomes for a quarter of the people in working families nationwide if Congress acts."
The study examined Census Bureau data about low-wage households in all 435 Congressional districts (and the District of Columbia)
The average household of a low-wage worker includes two family members in addition to the worker. This may include partners, children, aging parents, or siblings.
Overall, 25 percent of U.S. workers are trying to get by on wages that are not keeping pace with the rising costs of their need including rent, heat, clothes, medicine, food and transportation.
Of the total, 35 percent of low-wage workers are caring for children amounting to 9 million parents.
The states with the highest percentage of children who would benefit from a raise in the federal minimum wage are Arkansas (31 percent) and Mississippi (31 percent), the report said.
The federal minimum wage, $7.25 per hour, has not been raised since 2007.
President Obama and some Democrats in Congress have pushed for an increase to $10.10 an hour. Meanwhile, so cities and states have made the move to raise their minimum wage.