The majority of jobs added since the end of the Great Recession have been in low-wage occupations, according to a study from the National Employment Law Project. Those jobs have largely replaced middle-wage jobs, which made up a majority of those lost during and immediately after the recession.
Nearly three in five jobs added since the end of the recession pay less than $13.83 an hour, the report found:
Lower-wage occupations were 21 percent of recession losses, but 58 percent of recovery growth.
Mid-wage occupations were 60 percent of recession losses, but only 22 percent of recovery growth.
Higher-wage occupations were 19 percent of recession job losses, and 20 percent of recovery growth.
A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute found that more than a quarter of Americans — 28 percent — would work in low-wage jobs for the next decade. Those jobs pay less than $11.06 an hour, the necessary wage to reach the federal poverty level. Low-wage sectors, EPI found, are growing faster than the overall economy.
The growth of low-wage jobs has exacerbated inequality between employees and the executives who run their employers. At the 50 companies that employ the most low-wage workers, chief executives made an average of $9.4 million a year.
These studies come at a time when multiple states are considering minimum wage increases. Democratic members of Congress have introduced legislation to raise the federal minimum as well. To match the minimum wage’s peak buying power in 1968, today’s wage would need to be raised by more than $3 an hour.