How much does $15 an hour add up to annually?
In the modern world, many entry-level jobs pay little more than minimum wage. But a growing number of companies are starting to buck that trend and offer employees a much higher wage instead. These “living wage” jobs often involve serving customers directly or working in a service role.
Employers who provide high wages see several benefits as a result, including lower turnover rates, improved employee engagement and better customer service. Most importantly, paying employees more money means they’re less likely to need public assistance due to a low income. Here is how much $15 an hour adds up to annually for different types of workers:
Fast Food Workers
Fast-food workers are perhaps the most well-known group of workers to achieve a higher wage. In 2015, a coalition of unions and advocacy groups staged protests and walk-outs at major fast-food companies like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, calling for a $15 an hour wage.
The protests gained significant traction, and within a few years, some states and cities had passed laws requiring fast-food companies to pay at least $15 an hour. Other companies have voluntarily increased wages as well, with plans to raise the minimum to $15 an hour by 2021. While the $15 wage is more common in larger cities, workers in smaller towns have also seen an increase.
A full-time fast-food worker earning $15 an hour grosses $31,200 annually before payroll taxes. That’s a $5,000 increase from the $26,800 earned by a worker earning a $15 federal minimum wage.
Retail workers are often paid minimum wage, but the retail industry has been increasing wages in recent years. A survey of the largest retailers in 2017 found that a fifth of retail employees earn $15 an hour or more. Minimum wage laws vary by state and some retailers voluntarily pay higher wages even where there is no legal requirement to do so.
A full-time retail employee earning $15 an hour grosses $33,600 a year before payroll taxes. That’s a $4,200 increase over the $29,400 earned by a full-time minimum wage worker.
Many office workers are paid above minimum wage, but the $15 wage has recently become more common. A survey of the largest employers in the nation found that one-third of office workers earn $15 an hour or more. Certain industries, such as healthcare and education, often have higher wage requirements above and beyond the legal minimum.
A full-time office worker earning $15 an hour grosses $43,600 annually before payroll taxes. That’s a $6,100 increase over the $37,500 a full-time minimum wage worker takes home.
The vast majority of construction workers earn above minimum wage, but the $15 wage has become more common in recent years. A survey of construction contractors found that around two-thirds pay their workers between $15 and $20 an hour. A few exceptional jobs in California are mandated to pay $15 an hour due to the state’s high cost of living.
A full-time construction worker earning $15 an hour grosses $36,600 annually before payroll taxes. That’s $7,000 more than a construction worker earning the federal minimum wage.
Janitors and Maids
The $15 living wage has become the standard in the cleaning industry, and is increasingly common in other service industries as well. A survey of cleaning contractors found that three-quarters of janitorial companies and maid services pay at least $15 an hour.
A full-time janitor or maid earning $15 an hour grosses $31,200 annually before payroll taxes. That’s a $5,000 increase over the $26,800 earned by a full-time minimum wage worker.
The $15 living wage is becoming increasingly common, and the shift has been a major win for workers in low-paying industries. A full-time employee earning $15 an hour grosses $31,200 annually before payroll taxes, which is $4,400 more than a full-time minimum wage worker takes home. This higher wage also means employees are less likely to need public assistance due to a low income.
The $15 wage has benefits for employers, too, including lower turnover rates, improved employee engagement and better customer service. While the $15 living wage has been a huge win for workers, it’s important to remember that even entry-level jobs come with a lot of responsibility.
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