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 labor market.
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.
Official measures of poverty may not capture the difficulties afflicting low-wage workers, since households can still experience material hardship while not considered poor by official measures. From a survey of front-line service workers, we find that material hardship is associated with higher levels of self-reported depression and overall poorer mental health. This suggests that the mental health of low-wage workers may benefit from laws that not only increase earnings but also facilitate income stability. Low-wage workers may also benefit from programs that directly address material hardship.
In this podcast, Harry Holzer and Center Director Ann Stevens discuss how colleges have taken on the role of building the U.S. labor force. In March, 2015, Holzer visited the center as a Visiting Scholar to present the seminar “Building Labor Market Skills among Disadvantaged Americans.”
With unauthorized youth at the forefront of immigration reform discourse and policy proposals, understanding the diversity of their profiles and experiences is necessary to create holistic immigration policies.
For an extended period now, U.S. farms have enjoyed an abundance of workers from Mexico who work for stable or decreasing real wages. However, since 2008 the overall number of these farm workers, both these working in the U.S. and those who remain in Mexico, has shrunk substantially.
Those who come to the United States looking for work compete with some groups of native-born workers but complement others. Since wages and the local poverty rate play a part in how many arrive, it is a challenge to quantify the effect they in turn have on both, and whether they push native workers below the poverty line.