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The Low-wage, Low-education U.S. Future?

Will the U.S. economy become dominated by retail, leisure and education/health services?

January 2, 2014

Retail worker. (Credit: Monkey Business Images -

1. The bottom 20% of U.S. workers by income – 28 million workers – earn less than $9.89/hour.

2. $9.89/hour translates to $20,570 a year for a full-time employee.

3. The median U.S. worker’s income fell 5% between 2006 and 2012, in line with longer trends.

4. Wages for workers at the 50th percentile (median pay of $16.30 an hour) have fallen 3.4%, while pay for the top 10% rose 3%.

5. 20 of the U.S.’s fastest-growing jobs, like nursing home aid and retail clear, do not require a college education.

6. Low-wage jobs will play an ever-bigger role in countries’ economic futures.

7. Most U.S. workers who earn between $7.25 and $10/hour are employed in three industries: retail (24%), leisure/ hospitality (23%), or education or health services (19%).

From Fighting Back Against Wretched Wages by Steven Greenhouse (Economic Policy Institute via New York Times)




The bottom 20% of US workers earn less than $9.89/hour which equals $20,570 a year for a full-time employee.

20 of the US’s fastest-growing jobs do not require a college education.

Most US workers earning $7.25-$10/hour are employed in retail, leisure/hospitality, or education/health services.