Who Are Low-Wage Workers?

Journal Article

Who Are Low-Wage Workers?

Abstract

This brief examines the size and characteristics of the low-wage workforce and whether low-wage workers experience wage growth. We define low-wage workers as workers whose hourly wage rates are so low that even if they worked full-time, full-year their annual earnings would fall below the poverty line for a family of four. This wage rate is $8.63 in 2001, equivalent to $10.50 in 2008. Almost one-third of all workers ages 16 to 64 are low-wage workers in 2001. From 2001 to 2003, we find some evidence that low-wage workers are moving to higher wage jobs. But, the majority of low-wage workers either remain in low-wage jobs or are not working at all.

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