Reading the site often enough should give you the impression that I care about workers, their rights, and wages. People should be paid well for the services they provide to their employer. Sadly, that is just not happening here in the United States.
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research the United States ranks first in its share of low-wage employees. A true testament to our transition of becoming a service economy. Nearly a full quarter of all workers earn less than two-thirds of the median income. The United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland and Germany all sit closely together but trail us by more than four percentage points.
John Schmitt of CEPR notes that our minimum wage is too low and doesn’t push up wages in general.
“In France in the mid-2000s, for example, the minimum wage was set near the country’s low-wage threshold and that country had among the lowest levels of low-wage work in the OECD.”
The other problem comes from the global race to the bottom. We simply moved good paying jobs out of the country in exchange for cheaper goods.
The result means too many people earning poverty wages even in a full-time job. The federal minimum wage sits at $7.25 while even a position paying $10 an hour would only mean $20,000 a year. Meanwhile that low-wage portion of our workforce keeps getting older. Yes, older and more educated.
Maybe you thought low-wage jobs were for part-time workers, teenagers, and for the lazy. You would be wrong.
In 1979, more than a quarter of low-wage workers were teenagers. By 2011, it was cut by more than half, down to 12 percent. The only other age group that lost even a tiny a share of low-wage workers in those years was people 65 and over, who went from 4.6 percent of the low-wage workforce to 4.2 percent. Every other group—meaning people in their prime working years—grew as a percentage of the low-wage workforce. People ages 35 to 64, in particular, shot from 30.8 percent to 38.1 percent of workers earning $10 an hour or less.
Ten percent of those earning ten bucks or less also have a college degree. Good luck paying off the student loans with that gig.
Now tell me that this doesn’t matter. It incredibly personal to millions of hard working Americans and it is knocking on your door too.
© Aaron Krager 2008-2013 | Have any questions? Send me an email.