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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Federal Minimum Wage

What Is the Federal Minimum Wage?

The federal minimum wage is the lowest wage an employer can pay an hourly worker as established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As of July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage for U.S. nonexempt workers is $7.25 per hour. However, some states have a higher minimum wage than what is mandated by the federal government. 

If there is a difference between the federal and state minimum wage, the higher wage is paid. For example, Washington state’s minimum wage is $13.50 per hour, meaning that this is what hourly workers (subject to the FLSA) are paid in Washington state. In the case of states without a minimum wage, like Alabama, employers subject to the FLSA must pay the federal minimum wage.

For more information, check our glossary term entry on minimum wage. 

Who Is Exempt from the Federal Minimum Wage?

Some workers are exempt from the federal minimum wage, including:

  • Babysitters

  • Farm workers on small farms

  • Seasonal and recreational workers

  • Newspaper delivery workers

  • Workers with disabilities

  • And others

Be sure to check the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the list of exempted workers when making decisions about employee pay.