Last week, a new study was released on men and women in low-wage jobs. Of the nearly 20 million low-wage workers in the country, a staggering two-thirds of them are women. That’s a clear disproportion, as women comprise about half of the workforce today.
Also interesting, a surprising number of women in low-wage jobs – nearly four in five – had at least a high school diploma. This is yet another reminder that a high school degree no longer equates to a good paying job. Or does it for some? The report notes that women with a high school diploma make up 12% of the overall workforce in the US, but they represent 24% of those in low-wage jobs. Compare this to men with a high school diploma, who are 15% of the overall workforce and only 12% of the low wage workforce. “Women need a bachelor’s degree to avoid being overrepresented in low-wage jobs. Men only need to finish high school.”
Why do these figures matter? The effect of women in low-wage jobs doesn’t just impact these workers – it impacts families. Among women in the low-wage workforce, one-third are working mothers. And as we’ve discussed before, many of these low-wage jobs provide the least amount of flexibility in meeting the other family needs, like paid leave and child care options.
The report provides some solid policy recommendations, including efforts to provide higher wages for some of these critical jobs, support for the Earned Income Tax Credit, paid family leave policies, affordable higher education opportunities, and greater access to safe and stable child care. Does any of this sound familiar? Yep. We’ll keep raising the issues and the reasons for these smart economic policies.