Nearly half of Americans are working low-wage jobs despite unemployment numbers being at a record low, a new study released in late November found.
The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program found 44% of U.S. workers between the ages of 18 and 64 are in jobs that pay median annual wages of $18,000.
“Places with some of the highest wages and most productive economies are home to large numbers of low-wage workers: nearly one million in the Washington, D.C., region, 700,000 each in Boston and San Francisco, and 560,000 in Seattle,” writers Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman wrote.
The writers added that “getting a better job” through skills training won’t solve the issues.
“There simply are not enough jobs paying decent wages for people without college degrees (who make up the majority of the labor force) to escape low-wage work,” they wrote.
The study noted that 53 million of these low-wage jobs were people in prime working-age of 25 to 54, not just recent high school or college graduates.
Brookings reported their median hourly wage was $10.22, above the federal minimum wage of $7.25, but below what many experts would designate as a livable wage.
Brookings reported that the job market has been growing, the jobs created don’t provide high wages or good benefits to help with success, and workers have shared their frustrations.
Six out of ten workers said in a separate Gallup survey their job was mediocre to terrible, and 1 in 5 workers said their benefits have worsened over the last five years.
“Nearly half of all workers earn wages that are not enough, on their own, to promote economic security,” Ms. Ross and Ms. Bateman wrote.