With the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), policymakers and researchers have recognized the importance of understanding the dynamics of the low-wage labor market and the economic opportunities in it. As large numbers of current and former recipients enter the low-wage labor market, it is important to understand issues related to job retention and mobility among low-wage workers, as well as their prospects for wage progression.
While a number of researchers have examined issues related to the labor market experiences of workers in general, fewer studies have directly examined the labor-market experiences of low-wage workers. Moreover, these studies use data from the late 1980s and early 1990s but have not examined the situations of low-wage workers in more recent times. To learn how low-wage workers have fared in recent times, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) contracted with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) to provide a comprehensive profile of the characteristics and labor market experiences of low-wage workers since the passage of PRWORA.