Chart Detail

Share of workers earning poverty-level wages, by gender, 1973–2011

Source: Authors' analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

Updated May 14, 2012

Documentation and methodology

Figure is based on analysis of Current Population Survey (CPS) wage data described in Appendix B. The poverty-level wage is calculated using an estimate of the four-person weighted average poverty threshold in 2011 of $23,010 (based on the 2010 threshold updated for inflation). This is divided by 2,080 hours to obtain a poverty-level wage of $11.06 in 2011. The poverty-level wage is roughly equal to two-thirds of the median hourly wage. This figure is deflated by CPI-U-RS (Consumer Price Index Research Series Using Current Methods) to obtain the poverty-level wage levels for other years. The threshold is available at the U.S. Census Bureau website.


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