Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Everyday Sociology: Who Is a Low-Wage Earner?

Everyday Sociology blogger Karen Sternheimer posted an entry that defines what is a low-wage earner in American society. Contrary to popular opinion, most low-wage earners in America are adults over 20 years of age and people of color.

The report provides a demographic profile on these low-wage workers. They comprise 37 percent of those earning wages in the private sector; 39 percent of women and 35 percent of men. The vast majority—83 percent—are persons of color.

Despite the widespread belief that most low-wage workers are teens earning extra spending money while attending school, in Los Angeles few of them are teens; 38 percent of low wage workers are in their twenties, nearly 22 percent are in their thirties, and 37 percent are over forty. The majority work full time, and 36 percent have children.

The bulk of these workers are employed in restaurants, retail, health services, and administrative and waste management services. Right now, their median income is $16,000; in 2014, the federal poverty level for a two-person household is $15,730

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