In October 2015, the Center hosted the conference “Employment,
Earnings and Inequality: Realities and Opportunities in Low Wage
Labor Markets.” This conference presented both quantitative and
qualitative research on questions related to low wage labor
markets, covering topics that include wage trends and shifts in
occupations, policies that enhance wages, issues related to
immigration, mobility, stigma and identity among low-skilled
In these pages, we have gathered conference presentations with
existing and new Center materials related to labor markets:
Audio recordings of conference presentations and panels, as
well as slides
Facts and figures, as well as links to outside sources, that
provide a clearer picture of education in the U.S.
Central to our mission is the dissemination of poverty research.
We hope you will consider these pages a useful, ongoing resource
as we continue to add new work on U.S. poverty.
The low-wage labor market in the U.S. presents a number of
challenges for workers. For many, minimum wage jobs don’t provide
higher than a poverty level income. Another challenge is that
many low-wage jobs come with uncertainty in scheduling and hours,
which makes it difficult to get the training and education it
takes to get better jobs. Learn more here about the low-wage
In this Keynote presentation, Paul Osterman discusses the
low-wage labor market and policies that affect low-wage workers.
Osterman is the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Professor
of Human Resources and Management at the M.I.T. Sloan School of
Management as well as a member of the Department of Urban
Planning at M.I.T.
Low-wage work in itself can affects individuals and families in
different ways. It can affect relationships and how parents raise
their children. In times of unexpected hardships like the recent
recession, it can also create additional stress and uncertainty.
Learn more here about the lives of low-wage workers.
In this presentation, David Pedulla discusses his work on the
stigma of low-wage work based experimental field and survey
evidence. Pedulla is an Assistant Professor in the Department of
Sociology and a Faculty Research Associate of the Population
Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Children are removed from their families for different reasons,
but poverty and disconnection from financial support such as
employment or public benefits are associated with referrals to
child welfare and children being placed outside the home. Our new
research suggests that efforts to minimize the negative
financial impact of child placement for parents have the
potential to improve both the financial lives of vulnerable
families and their chances for reunification.
Labor policies and safety net programs make a difference for
low-wage workers in the U.S. Minimum wage laws ensure a minimum
for earnings, and safety net programs like the Earned Income Tax
Credit and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
supplement incomes for workers who don’t earn enough to meet
basic needs. Learn more here about policies that impact low-wage
This presentation features UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri
discussing why immigrants from Mexico and Central America are
more reliant on wages and less reliant on public safety net
programs, yet are still much more likely to be poor than those
born in the US.