More Americans Have Bad Jobs

A study finds workers are more likely to have a salary below $37,000 without benefits than 30 years ago.


The Center for Economic and Policy Research released a new report this week that concludes about a quarter of American workers have a “bad job.”

That’s defined as a full-time position with a salary below $37,000 ($18.50/hour) that has no health benefits or retirement plan. In 1979, only 18 percent had such jobs. And the report argues this has almost nothing to do with the recession:

The main driver of the rise in bad jobs was the systematic decline in workers’ bargaining power since the end of the 1970s. The report’s authors point to the fall in the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage, the decline in union representation, trade deals, and high unemployment as some of the key factors reducing the bargaining power of workers relative to their employers.

Education was also a major factor. Workers with an associate’s degree or less “were substantially more likely to be in a bad job” than they were 30 years ago.

Stacy Johnson

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