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

04/30/2004

  • Most low-wage workers report working full-time (defined as those who report usually working at least 35 hours per week; Table III.7 and Figure III.9). However, they work fewer hours than other workers. For example, among male workers in March 1996, about 85 percent of those with low wages worked full-time, compared to 93 percent of all workers (Table III.7 and Figure III.9).(20) Similarly, about 66 percent of low-wage female workers usually worked full-time, compared to 78 percent of all employed females. Average hours worked per week, however, did not vary across the low-wage worker typology groups (Table B.4). It is interesting to note that, in total, 86 percent of all workers worked full-time in the strong economy of 1996. This figure is somewhat higher than the 83 percent figure per year between 1985 and 1992 (Statistical Abstract of the United States).

Figure III.8.
Average Hourly Wage For Low-Wage Workers In March 1996, By Age
 
Figure III.8. Average Hourly Wage For Low-Wage Workers in March 1996, By Age
Source: SIPP March cross-sectional samples.
Note: All figures were calculated using the 1996 calendar year weight.

Figure III.9.
Percentage Of Low-Wage And All Workers Who Worked
At Least 35 Hours Per Week, By Gender
 
Figure III.9. Percentage Of Low-Wage And All Workers Who Worked At Least 35 Hours Per Week, By Gender.
Source: SIPP March cross-sectional samples.
Note: All figures were calculated using the 1996 calendar year weight.
  • Not surprisingly, the oldest and youngest low-wage workers work fewer hours than other low-wage workers (not shown). In 1996, less than two-thirds of teenage and elderly male low-wage workers worked full-time, compared to 85 percent of other low-wage workers. Similarly, only about one-half of teenage and elderly female low-wage workers were employed full-time.

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