Characteristics of Low-Wage Workers and Their Labor Market Experiences: Evidence from the Mid- to Late 1990s. Descriptive Analysis Findings, By Gender

04/30/2004

Our descriptive analysis reveals that there was some movement into and out of the low-wage labor market for low-wage workers. During a three-and-one-half-year period after job start, most workers held medium-wage jobs at some point. However, many also returned to the low-wage labor market. Low-wage workers were employed about 80 percent of the time. Altogether, low-wage workers spent about twice as much time in low-wage than higher-wage (that is, medium- or high-wage) jobs. However, employment rates in higher-wage jobs increased over time, especially for males.

These results indicate that low-wage workers have some upward mobility over the medium-term. At the same time, however, a segment of the low-wage population remains entrenched in low-wage jobs. Next, we discuss the evidence for these findings.

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