Ever considered what it's like to live on anything less than a living wage?
Many private-sector workers know how it feels. That's because nearly one in four makes less than $10 per hour, a report by the National Employment Law Project shows. Just over half of low-wage workers are employed in industries such as food service, accommodation, retail, administration services and arts and recreation.
Overall, U.S. employment rose by 2.3 percent between February 2010 and February 2012, the report notes. However, a disproportionate number of jobs were created in low-wage industries. According to the NELP, the food service, accommodation, retail trade industries have all seen greater rises in employment than the U.S. economy overall; in fact, employment in the food service industry has risen by 5.1 percent over that span.
The disproportionate number of jobs created in low wage industries led slowed overall wage growth. Between June 2011 and June 2012, real weekly earnings rose by only 0.6 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
Such stagnant wages, in turn, result in less consumer spending, The Guardian note. And that makes any sort of sustained economic recovery that much more difficult.
The Center for American Progress, a left-of-center public policy group, has argued that a higher minimum wage would pump more money into the economy without cutting into job growth.
The more-money part seems about right. The national minimum wage has lost 30 percent of its purchasing power since 1968, the NELP report finds. U.S. unemployment was pegged at 3.6 percent in 1968.