Texas leads in workers paid less than minimum

McALLEN — More people are getting paid less than the federal minimum wage in Texas than any other state in the nation, and most of these underpaid workers are women, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 176,000 people in Texas earned less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour in 2015.

About 68 percent or 120,000 were women compared to 56,000 men, the report states.

Corando Carrizales, representative from the local U.S. Department of Labor office, said people being underpaid is a problem that has been prominent historically in South Texas and is somewhat unique to the border region.

“Minimum wage is the preponderance of the cases that we do,” Carrizales said this past week during a news conference hosted by the Mexican consulate downtown.

“Here, we are worried about collecting minimum wage; up north, they are worried about collecting overtime, or their true salaries,” he added. “It’s always in the hospitality industry; it’s always in the restaurant industries, those types of businesses.”

Hector Lopez, spokesman for Fuerza del Valle Worker’s Center, said Texas is in a “very dire situation,” when it comes to wage theft and workers getting less than the minimum wage. He said many of their clients are also undocumented and unaware of their labor rights.