Progress Toward Self-Sufficiency for Low-Wage Workers

Research Report

Progress Toward Self-Sufficiency for Low-Wage Workers

Abstract

Over the last decade, American social policy has increasingly focused on encouraging and requiring work for those receiving government supports. This study analyzes the dynamics of the low-wage labor market and the role of work supports in helping workers move toward economic self-sufficiency. Monthly data from January 2001 through January 2003 shows that over one-quarter of workers earn low wages. We find evidence that low-wage workers are moving to higher-wage jobs, but two years later, the majority of low-wage workers either remain in low-wage jobs or are not working. Our analysis provides some, although limited, evidence that government-provided work supports promote self-sufficiency.

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