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


  • The weekly earnings of low-wage workers are typically much lower than for higher-wage workers (Table III.7). These differences are primarily due to differences in hourly wage rates but are also due in part to lower work effort for low-wage employees. In 1996, male low-wage workers earned an average of only $240 per week, whereas the average U.S. male employee earned nearly three times more. (21) Low-wage females typically earn less than low-wage males (an average of $196 per week for females in 1996, compared to $240 for males). This is because low-wage females typically work fewer hours per week, although hourly wages are similar by gender. The weekly earnings levels of low-wage workers translate into annual earnings well below the poverty level for both sexes and for each of the low-wage worker typology groups.

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