Wednesday, August 7, 2013

10 startling facts about low-wage workers

Low-wage workers are rising up against their corporate bosses nationwide in an effort to increase their appalling wages and improve workplace protections by organizing.  For some that’s meant walking out on their jobs on a one-day strike, while others have joined them on the picket line to protest.

Workers protest at a Chicago McDonald's last week.
No matter what form the action takes, there are many good reasons why this is happening now. While the U.S. unemployment rate has dropped in the past few years, the new jobs created are falling far short of the ones they are replacing when it comes to pay and benefits. That means many low-wage jobs, such as in the fast food and retail industries, are now being filled by adults who have families to feed.
Here are 10 little-known facts that show who is working low-wage jobs and what they have experienced in recent years:
  1. 39.3 percent of fast-food workers are 25 or older
  2. 31.4 percent of fast-food workers aged 20 and over have at least some college experience;
  3. 26.6 percent of fast-food workers are parents;
  4. 83.6 percent of fast-food workers make $10.09 an hour or less;
  5. 74 percent of those in federal contract jobs (which includes port truckers, janitors, fast food and retail workers) make less than $10 an hour;
  6. The average U.S. worker with one child needs to earn $14.17 an hour to achieve economic security;
  7. Workers making between $10.61 and $14.21 per hour saw their real wages drop on average by 4.5 percent between 2009 and 2012;
  8. The median U.S. income has fallen 8.1 percent since 2007;
  9. Involuntary part-timers have almost doubled in the past five years, to 8.2 million;
  10. 12.6 percent of adults aged 25 to 60 live in poverty
Don’t expect worker-led efforts to raise awareness to end anytime soon.  It’s going to continue to be a long, hot summer for corporations that pay poverty wages.