Characteristics of Low-Wage Workers and Their Labor Market Experiences: Evidence from the Mid- to Late 1990s. Characteristics of Low-Wage Workers and Their Jobs


The literature characterizing low-wage workers and their jobs has focused on three main questions:

  1. What is the size of the low-wage labor market?
  2. Who are low-wage workers? and
  3. What are the job and overall employment characteristics of low-wage workers?

The fact that researchers have used several methods to define low-wage workers often makes it difficult to directly compare the findings across studies. In addition, researchers have used a number of data sets, both cross-sectional and longitudinal, to study these issues. The data sets often include different samples and cover different time periods, which further complicates direct comparisons. Despite these differences in definitions and samples, however, the key findings across studies are broadly consistent. This is likely due to the considerable overlap in samples generated using the different definitions of low-wage workers. In this literature review, we draw from research using each of the definitions of low-wage workers described above.

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