Saturday, April 21, 2012

We're #1 . . . (Sigh)

This helps to explain why young adults face so much competition for entry level, low wage jobs.

The Huffington Post points to a new analysis of OECD data showing that of 19 advanced countries surveyed, the U.S. has the highest share of workers in low-wage jobs.  And we're #1 by a lot:

One in four U.S. employees were low-wage workers in 2009, according to the OECD. That is 20 percent higher than in the number-two country, the United Kingdom. At 4 percent, Belgium has the smallest share of its in employees working in low-wage jobs. Low-wage work is defined as earning less than two-thirds of the country's median hourly wage.

Moreover, low-wage work is not confined to those with low educational qualifications.  Nearly half (43.2%) of all low-wage workers now have at least some college education -- a percentage that has nearly doubled in the past 30 years.

So what's behind the poor showing?  The author points to several contributing factors:

  1. The U.S. minimum wage is too low. 
  2. Economic growth doesn't necessarily lift poor people's wages
  3. Less social spending by the government is correlated with worse wages for poor people
  4. Low-wage work usually is not a stepping-stone to well-paying jobs
  5. Working a low-wage job can often create additional problems other than the paltry pay. 

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