Minimum wage positions are meant to be the first job on a career ladder, “a chance for entry-level workers to prove themselves before earning a promotion.”
However, there is an increased number of Americans who are getting stuck at the first rung for years, if they ever move up at all. “The trend partly reflects the recession and slow recovery, which has brought weak wage growth for nearly all workers.” However, it also reflects longer-run shifts in the economy that have eroded workers. That sense of stagnation may be part of what is fueling the nationwide push for a higher minimum wage, which has gained momentum in recent years.
Anthony Kemp, who is 44 years old, is representative of the changing minimum wage workforce. There are nearly a quarter of the 3.2 million minimum wage workers in 2014 who were over 40; and half were 25 or older. “A generation ago, someone like Kemp — a widower who never completed high school —might have held a union job in a factory.” “Today, he is working minimum wage for $8.25 an hour with little hope of advancement.”