One In Four Private Sector Workers Earn Less Than $10 An Hour

 

Written by Travis Waldron

The last increase in the federal minimum wage was passed into law four years ago today, but the current minimum wage falls far short of meeting the needs of the average worker. To match the buying power of the 1968 minimum wage, for instance, today’s would need to be increased to $10.55 an hour.

And yet, more than a quarter of America’s private sector workers make less than $10 an hour, according to a report released this month by the National Employment Law Project:

In 2011, more than one in four private sector jobs (26 percent) were low‐wage positions paying less than $10 per hour. These jobs, moreover, were concentrated in industries where low‐wage workers make up a substantial share – in some cases more than half – of the entire workforce.

Worse yet, the share of low-wage jobs is increasing, as five industries that are comprised primarily of low-wage workers have grown faster than total employment since the end of the Great Recession, as this NELP chart shows:

While the share of low-wage jobs continues to rise, so to do the profits of the corporations that utilize low-wage workers. Two-thirds of America’s low-wage workers are employed by corporations with more than 100 employees, and the nation’s biggest low-wage employers are faring well since the end of the recession. 92 percent were profitable last year, and 63 percent are more profitable than they were before the recession, according to the report.

And even as they employ low-wage workers, chief executives continue to rake in massive salaries, as AlterNet’s Sarah Jaffe notes. At the 50 companies that employ the largest number of low-wage workers, CEOs made an average of $9.4 million — roughly 450 times more than the gross income of a full-time worker who makes $10 an hour.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.

 

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32 comments

jane d.
jane d.3 years ago

And it seems like the rest make about a dollar more. I'm making less now than I was 12 years ago ... no lie, no exaggeration ... truth! In 2000 I was making just over 30k. Today, different company but equally as huge, I'm not even making $29k a year. And i haven't been off for those 12 years either. I've been working and even had one job for nearly 5 years straight (until laid off). It's disgusting. The 1% need to start pulling their share of the weight and paying employees their worth. And I'm sick of hearing people like Donald Trump rant about how they "did it on their own ... no one helped" me. Baloney! It's those low paid employees that "helped" all of them get rich.

jane d.
jane d.3 years ago

And it seems like the rest make about a dollar more. I'm making less now than I was 12 years ago ... no lie, no exaggeration ... truth! In 2000 I was making just over 30k. Today, different company but equally as huge, I'm not even making $29k a year. And i haven't been off for those 12 years either. I've been working and even had one job for nearly 5 years straight (until laid off). It's disgusting. The 1% need to start pulling their share of the weight and paying employees their worth. And I'm sick of hearing people like Donald Trump rant about how they "did it on their own ... no one helped" me. Baloney! It's those low paid employees that "helped" all of them get rich.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Diane S.-It is interesting to see how the rich and the corporations have co-opted you into being their shill. You really think that the answer to the problem is that everyone make less? Instead of being angry at unionized workers who make a few dollars more and perhaps get some decent benefits you should be mad at the greedy bloodsuckers who have stolen 80% of the wealth created by the American worker in the last 30 years, but by all means continue to be a fool that buys into the "divide and conquer" nonsense.

Being paid a fair wage is not an "unfair advantage" and if every state were a "right to work state" (an amazingly Orwellian term) we would simply have more wage slaves.

Diana S.
Diana S.3 years ago

One in four private sector JOBS are worth less than ten dollars an hour!!! If every state in the US were a right-to-work state, the unions would not be able to artificially inflate the wages of certain sectors of the workforce (whose skills and abilities are by NO MEANS any greater than any of the ten-dollar-an-hour private-sector grunts), which inflates the cost of goods, which inflates prices in general, etc-etc-etc. We ALL pay the price when some of the workforce gets unfair advantages at the expense of the rest of us.

Thomas M.
Tom M.3 years ago

If the Republican philosophy is carried to it's logical conclusion the middle class will vanish.

In other words, they won't be happy until 4 out of 4 people are paid minimum wages.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Erika-that is simply not true. The minimum wage works and helps the working poor and middle class. I don't see anyone arguing against salary increases for the CEO and executives of all of these corporations. How do you think they pay for those salary increases? Oh but those are okay, but giving a salary increase to the working class will raise consumer prices?

80% of all the wealth created in this nation in the last 30 years has gone to the richest 2% of the population and people can actually argue that raising the minimum wage is a "bad" thing?

Erika M.
Erika M.3 years ago

While raising the minimum wage sounds good in theory, all that will happen is prices will rise even more so the corps. can keep their HUGE profit margin. We will be back to square one. If you earn min. wage, try to do something for yourself as far as a business, try network marketing if it appeals to you, do you sew? have a green thumb? think of something you do well and parlay it into a full or part time business for yourself. I sell roses in bars and have for nearly 20 years. I work part time and earn more than most full time people who earn more than min. wage.

Gloria H.
Gloria H.3 years ago

independant contracter=minimum wagge job. No benefits, but a job.

Jeff C.
Jeff Chapman3 years ago

The wage problem in this country is so sad. Many(not all) corporate executives have proven their lack of morals by the business decisions they make. Even though they make more than enough money, they have no problems taking away from the laborors who provide them their wealth and stability. Maybe there should be a restriction that the CEO can only make 10 times his lowest hourly employees wage, maybe that would help keep him grounded and his morals in check.

There is a reason that a show called undercover boss has surfaced, because executives have become so involved in making money, no matter who they hurt, they forget about the ground level and the people that keep their business afloat. Either they have become so far removed or have never been there in the first place. It's becoming increasingly difficult to get to the top unless you are born there. Let's have some accountability from the people in charge, please.

Jeff C.
Jeff Chapman3 years ago

The wage problem in this country is so sad. Many(not all) corporate executives have proven their lack of morals by the business decisions they make. Even though they make more than enough money, they have no problems taking away from the laborors who provide them their wealth and stability. Maybe there should be a restriction that the CEO can only make 10 times his lowest hourly employees wage, maybe that would help keep him grounded and his morals in check.

There is a reason that a show called undercover boss has surfaced, because executives have become so involved in making money, no matter who they hurt, they forget about the ground level and the people that keep their business afloat. Either they have become so far removed or have never been there in the first place. It's becoming increasingly difficult to get to the top unless you are born there. Let's have some accountability from the people in charge, please.