Report: Nearly half of American workers have low-wage jobs

Person looking through job postings in a news paper, November 2012 (Flickr / Kate Hiscock / CC BY 2.0)
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - A new report indicates that nearly half the working American population has a problem.

According to a Brookings Institution analysis, unemployment may be down, but there aren't enough good jobs to go around.

They say 44% of American workers are employed in low-wage jobs that pay median annual wages of $18,000.

The report says their median hourly wages are $10.22. That's higher than the federal minimum wage which sits at $7.25. The minimum wage in Louisiana is also $7.25.

That's nearly half of the American workforce who don't make what's considered a living wage. According to MIT, a living wage for a single person in Louisiana is $11.28. The poverty wage for a single adult with two children is $9.99.

This isn't just a problem for workers who are young or inexperienced, according to the report. The low-wage workforce is primarily made up of post-college age adults and older Americans.

56% of them are ages 25-50. 19% of them are ages 51-65.

23% of low-wage workers have an associate's degree or more. Add in the number of workers who are in school or have some college education and that number jumps to 48%.

Job Quality Index data appears to back up the analysis. It assesses job quality in the United States and measures the "direction and degree of change in high-to-low job composition."

While the JQI chart shows increases and declines in job quality since its inception in 1990, the trend has generally been a downward one. According to the index, job quality has declined by 14.3% since 1990. The index most recently began to trend upward in 2012 but started to drop again in 2017. You can see it here.

Most workers appear to feel it. A CBS report in October said 6 in 10 workers rate their job quality as "mediocre to bad."