About 7.4 percent of Tennessee's workforce earns at or below the minimum wage, the highest proportion of minimum wage workers in the country, according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nationally, about 4.3 percent of the workforce – or 3.3 million workers – earn at or below the minimum wage.
In Tennessee, about 117,000 workers earn about at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Tennessee was followed by Idaho (7.1 percent), Alabama (6.8 percent) and Arkansas (6.8 percent).
Tennessee is one of only five states without its own minimum wage law. Four states have minimum wages that are less than the federal standard of $7.25, while 20 others have set their minimum wages equal to federal requirement. Nearly two dozen states have laws that call for a minimum wage higher than the national minimum wage.
Earlier this legislation session, an attempt to raise the minimum wage in Tennessee by $1 an hour for workers who have not been offered health insurance was rejected in committee.
It is unclear exactly how many Tenesseans would have received a pay raise. Restaurant workers who receive much of their compensation in the form of tips would have been exempted, as would those whose employers offer health care coverage.
In recent months, President Obama has sought to build momentum for his effort to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016, part of a larger aim to address income inequality between the wealthy and the poor.