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Interactions of Workers and Firms in the Low-Wage Labor Market

Publication Date
Nov 30, 2002

This research, while directly supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, (grant number 01ASPE372A to the Urban Institute) and by funding from the Rockefeller/Sage Foundation is a part of the U.S. Census Bureau's Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Program (LEHD), which is partially supported by the National Science Foundation Grant SES-9978093 to Cornell University (Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research), the National Institute on Aging, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Census Bureau, or the National Science Foundation. Confidential data from the LEHD Program were used in this paper. The U.S. Census Bureau is preparing to support external researchers use of these data under a protocol to be released in the near future; please contact Ron Prevost at: We appreciate the helpful comments of Waleed Almousa, Bob Cottrell, Vicky Feldman, George Foster, Phil Hardiman, David Illig, Kelleen Kaye, Robert Lerman, Jay Pfeiffer, George Putnam, and David Stevens. We thank Bahattin Buyuksahin for valuable research assistance.

This paper presents an analysis of workers who have a history of persistently low earnings in the past. Some of these workers manage to escape from this low-earning status over subsequent years, while many do not. Using data from the Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics (LEHD) program at the U.S. Census Bureau, the study analyzes the characteristics of workers as well as employers that enable some low-wage workers to improve their earnings status over time.

Low-Income Populations
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)