Huffpost Business

Study Debunks Classic Argument About Low-Wage Workers

Posted: Updated:

Turns out that more education does not necessarily mean more pay.

Low-wage workers are a lot more educated than they were nearly 50 years ago, but they are making much less, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

Here is an infographic with all the numbers (words continue after graphic):

low wage education

The standard-issue Thomas-Friedman solution to our major economic woes -- no jobs, income inequality, terrible wages -- is for low-wage workers to just go and get themselves an edumacation already. Smarten up, get new skills, and the jobs and higher wages will come, while the cares and worries of globalization, offshoring and outsourcing will just wash away. It's also an argument against raising the minimum wage -- if workers were worth more, by being smarter, then the Invisible Hand would pay them more.

Except it's not necessarily true. Particularly since the Great Recession, highly educated people have ended up taking low-paying McJobs, mainly because those have been the most plentiful.

This is also a longer-term trend: Workers are better-educated and more productive, meaning they can produce more in fewer hours. That has helped boost corporate profits to record highs, while wages have stagnated.

Around the Web

Secondary Sources: Bernanke's Legacy, Minimum Wage, Earnings and Deflation

Will a higher minimum wage really reduce income inequality?

6 Conservatives Who Support Raising the Minimum Wage

One thing college graduates can look forward to? Low wages and part-time jobs

Projections show growth of low-wage jobs

Study: Low-wage workers more educated than in 1968, but make less