Low-Income and Low-Skilled Workers Involvement in Nonstandard Employment. Wages

10/01/2001

The second component of job quality in which we are interested is wages. It is clear from Table 3.10 that earnings of workers in alternative work arrangements are substantially below those in regular work, although average earnings in this sector have showed a slightly stronger upward trend than overall earnings.

Table 3.10
Wage Levels
(Mean and Median Wage Levels by Work Arrangement)
Work Arrangement 1995 1997 1999
Mean Wage Median Wage Mean Wage Median Wage Mean Wage Median Wage

All Workers

Agency Temps $9.32 $7.56 $10.84 $7.66 $10.58 $8.25
On-Call Workers 11.57 8.64 11.85 8.38 12.31 8.92
Regular Workers 13.34 10.80 13.14 10.72 13.96 11.40

Public Assistance Recipients

Agency Temps $6.81 $6.48 $7.73 $6.38 $8.39 $7.43
On-Call Workers 8.93 6.57 9.00 7.15 8.14 6.44
Regular Workers 9.05 7.56 9.16 7.66 9.66 7.93

Workers Below 150% Poverty

Agency Temps $7.15 $6.48 $7.87 $6.13 $7.75 $7.43
On-Call Workers 7.58 6.65 11.00 6.64 6.92 6.19
Regular Workers 7.58 6.48 7.80 6.64 8.20 6.94

Source: Current Population Survey, matched February to March
Note: All wages are in 1998 dollars.

Turning to look at at-risk workers, their earnings are about one-third less in alternative work arrangements than those workers in the same arrangements who are not at risk of welfare receipt, who in turn make about one-third less than regular workers. Thus, at-risk workers in alternative work arrangements make about 50 percent less than regular workers for two, roughly equal, reasons--their at risk status and their employment in alternative work arrangements. Indeed, the median at-risk worker who worked full-time year-round in this sector (which is unlikely, given the information on job duration and the incidence of part-time work) would just barely earn enough to be above poverty for a family of four. It is also worth noting that since the distribution of earnings for at-risk workers in temporary work is much less skewed than for any other of the groups being examined (the mean and the median are quite close), there are very few workers either making large amounts above or below the group average.