Any discussion about the minimum wage is surely going to include speculation about the impact increasing minimum wage would have on the economy. It is likely that at least one person is going to point out that only 1.7 million individuals, or approximately 2% of the work force, earn minimum wage in an attempt to minimize the suggested impact raising the minimum wage might have. What those attempting to make this argument fail to take into account is that there is another 2.2 million individuals that, as of 2011, had wages below federal minimum wage. This brings the number of US workers at or below current federal minimum wage up to approximately 3.8 million workers, or 5.3% (source).
Further, this line of reasoning fails to take into account those between current minimum wage and whatever we wish to propose as a new minimum wage. So, if we are going to talk about changing the minimum wage, what should we choose as our proposed new minimum? There is a great article over at Dissent Magazine that crunches some numbers in response to Obama's State of the Union call to raise the minimum wage to $9.00/hour. I am going to choose to use what in this article is described as "a commonly cited bench mark" that adjusts "for inflation using the basic consumer price index", $10.50. So, lets take a look at some numbers and see if we can figure out how many workers would have their earnings directly increased by increasing the minimum wage to $10.50.