CBS News - December 2, 2019
- Almost half of U.S. workers between ages 18 to 64 are employed in low-wage jobs, the Brookings Institution found.
- Low-wage jobs are pervasive, representing between one-third to two-thirds of all jobs in the country's almost 400 metropolitan areas.
- ***Smaller cities in the South and West tend to have the highest share, such as Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Jacksonville, North Carolina, where more than 6 in 10 workers are in low-wage work.
America's unemployment rate is at a half-century low, but it also has a job-quality problem that affects nearly half the population, with a*** studyfinding 44% of U.S. workers are employed in low-wage jobs that pay median annual wages of $18,000.
Contrary to popular opinion, these workers aren't teenagers or young adults just starting their careers, write Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman of the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, which conducted the analysis.
Most of the 53 million Americans working in low-wage jobs are adults in their prime working years, or between about 25 to 54, they noted. Their median hourly wage is $10.22 per hour — that's above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour but well below what's considered the living wage for many regions.
Even though the economy is adding more jobs, there's increasing evidence that many of those new positions don't offer the kind of wages and benefits required to get ahead. A new measure called the Job Quality Index recently found there is now a growing number of low-paying jobs relative to employment with above-average pay.
For the U.S. overall, median household income is $66,465, according to Sentier Research, with roughly half of families earning less than that amount.
Workers aren't shy about expressing their frustrations, with about 6 of 10 workers saying their jobs are mediocre to downright bad, according to a recent Gallup job-quality survey. For instance, 1 in 5 workers told Gallup their benefits are worse now than five years ago.
"Not enough jobs paying decent wages"
Low-wage jobs represent between one-third to two-thirds of all jobs in the country's almost 400 metropolitan areas, Brookings found. Smaller cities in the South and West tend to have the highest share, such as Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Jacksonville, North Carolina, where more than 60% of workers are low-wage.
But not only small cities in the South and West have a high proportion of low-paid jobs, the Brookings authors noted.
"Places with some of the highest wages and most productive economies are home to large numbers of low-wage workers: nearly one million in the Washington, D.C., region, 700,000 each in Boston and San Francisco, and 560,000 in Seattle," Ross and Bateman wrote. ...
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