The money or compensation, you earn in exchange for work. Some common ways employers pay wages are hourly, salary, and commission -- or some combination of these ways.
An hourly amount voted into law by the U.S. Congress. All employers in the U.S. have to pay their employees at least the minimum wage unless their state law says differently. Some states actually allow some employers to pay a lower minimum wage. Usually these are very small businesses that only do business locally.
In some cities, towns, and counties around the U.S. -- especially those that have a high cost of living -- local laws have been passed that require some employers to pay what’s called a living wage, which is a dollar amount that’s higher than the federal minimum wage to help workers meet their basic needs. Usually it applies to government jobs or to employers with government contracts. Check on the local laws where you live.