Future workers' access to good jobs will not be dependent upon educational or skill attainment or labor market demand, but a range of policy-related issues that affect job quality.
This paper focused on low-wage workers—who they are, where they work, where they live, and what their challenges may be in regards to education/skill requirements, job quality, and wages. The authors argued that “workers…will only experience rising living standards if the policy status quo is replaced by more-progressive tax and transfer policies, increase in the real value of the minimum wage, a reversal in falling unionization rates, an expansion (and definitely not a retrenchment) of publically financed social insurance programs, and, crucially, a real commitment to full employment” (p.14). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

• “Female, young and minority workers are overrepresented in the ranks of low-wage workers” (p. 2). “While female workers constituted less than half of the total workforce in 2011, they accounted for 55.1 percent of poverty-wage workers” (p.4). • “In 2011, only 31.5 percent of low-wage workers lived in households with a family income greater than $50,000, indicating that low-wage workers are not predominantly teenagers living with their parents or adults with low-paying jobs living with a higher-earning spouse. • In 2010, Mississippi and Tennessee had the largest share of workers earning wages that put them under the official poverty threshold for a family of four, at 33.7 percent and 32.9 percent, respectively” (p.2). • “Greater educational attainment should be the focus of efforts to improve social mobility for those from disadvantaged and low-income backgrounds” (p.13). • “Instead of facing a skills deficit, workers face a wage deficit. This is powerfully illustrated by the fact that college graduates have not seen their real wages rise in ten years” (p.14). (Abstractor: Author)