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Nearly half of American workers have low-wage jobs, study says

Posted at 2:10 PM, Dec 03, 2019

We often hear about the low unemployment rate, but a new report highlights the state of U.S. jobs.

The Brookings Institution looked at how much people are making and found that just under half of the population are low-wage workers, meaning they make around $10 per hour or $18,000 per year.

The study "found that 53 million Americans between the ages of 18 to 64—accounting for 44% of all workers—qualify as 'low-wage.'"

These aren’t just part-time jobs. The reality is there are people in their prime working age that are, in many cases, the sole bread winner for their families.

“Most of the jobs that we lost in the recessions were for people with a high school diploma or less and most of the jobs we gained back, when we finally did gain them back, went to people with at least some post-secondary education,” said Martha Ross with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

The labor market today tends to reward employees already making more money and those with a bachelor’s degree or better. Yet, only about 30% of U.S. adult have a degree.

“On the one side, there's a lot that can be done to help workers improve their skills, whether it’s a degree or a certificate or on the job training, we can do that a lot better,” said Ross.

In terms of solutions, researchers say businesses can change their hiring and pay practices.