Low-paying jobs to remain, says Economic Policy Institute

fast food worker

Low-wage jobs are rapidly becomeing the norm in our economy. And the trend is not lilely to change, says a new report. Image: The Consumerist/Flickr/CC BY

More than a quarter of all U.S. workers will hold low-paying jobs in 2020, says a new study from the Economic Policy Institute. That is about the same rate as in 2010.

Income gap continues to widen

Since the Great Recession, the percentage of low-income jobs has risen. And a new report Thursday said the trend is not about to change at any time soon, even if the economy should recover before then.

Meanwhile, the gap between the lowest and the highest earners continues to widen.

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s report, 28 percent of employed Americans will be in low wage jobs at the start of the next decade. That is relatively unchanged from what it was two years ago.

According to the study, a low wage job is one that provides only enough to keep a family of four at or below the poverty line. As of last year, that was $11.06 an hour, according to CNN.

Low wage job creation

Many economists worry that too many of the jobs being created today — still far too few to lower the unemployment rate — are low-earning positions, further expanding the gulf between the average worker and the super-rich.

According to a separate report from the National Employment Law Project, the rate of low wage occupations rose 3.2 percent in from year following the first quarter of 2010. Following the Great Recession, one-time good earners who lost their jobs became less and less discriminating in what work they would accept.

The value of an education

Many of these low-earners are college graduates, some still struggling with their student loan debts.

John Schmitt, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:

“They will start asking whether college is worth it.”

Wages fall for poor, rise for rich

Wages in the U.S. have remained relatively stagnant for the past decade. Now, according to the National Employment Law Project, those wages are beginning to recede. According to its data, low wage workers saw their pay drop by 2.3 percent following the recession, between 2008 and 2011. That is about twice as fast as they have fallen for middle-earners.

Meanwhile, the salaries of the business executives who employ the low- and middle-earners continue to increase. According to ThinkProgress, the CEOs at the 50 U.S. companies that employ the most low-wage workers made, on average, just over $9 million dollars apiece last year.



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