A recent study by economists at the University of Massachusetts examined low-wage and low income work in the United States over the thirty year period 1979-2009.[i] This study defined “low-wage” as an hourly wage less than two-thirds of the state median hourly wage, and “low income” as a family income less than 200% of the official poverty level. The study found that during these 30 years, 34% of employed single mothers were both working at a low-wage and in a family with a low income. The 34% rate for employed single mothers was almost triple the 12.5% rate for all employed persons, and almost double the 18% rate for employed single fathers. In 2009, the last year covered by this study, 39% of employed single mothers were in low-wage work, and 36% of employed single mothers were both low-wage and low income.[ii]
There were similar findings in an earlier study of low wage work commissioned by the federal government.[iii] This study found that 44% of employed single mothers were in low-wage work in 1996 defined by the study as an hourly wage less than $7.50.
(July 2012. Contact Timothy Casey, firstname.lastname@example.org, for further information.)
[i] Albelda, Randy and Michael Carr. 2012. Low-Wage and Low-Income Workers In the U.S., 1979-2009. Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts, Center for Social Policy, Working Paper 2012-1. Available at http://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1059&context=csp_pubs.
[ii] Personal communication from Randy Albelda.
[iii] Schochet, Peter and Anu Rangarajan. 2004. Characteristics of Low-Wage Workers and Their Labor Market Experiences: Evidence from the Mid-to Late 1990s. Submitted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. to Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/low-wage-workers04/report.pdf.
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