Low Wages A National Problem

By Will Roseliep


Dec. 6, 2011

On Dec. 2, the federal government announced the country's unemployment rate had fallen to 8.6 percent and job growth over the last three months had averaged 143,000 a month. Those statistics could offer hope to job seekers who have long been out of work.
But Paul Osterman, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, questioned what kinds of jobs have been created. He said on “The Callie Crossley Show” on Dec. 5 that even with a job, the situation is still dire for a large percentage of the population.
“Twenty percent of adults — not kids; I'm not talking about kids working as ushers in a movie — 20 percent of working adults are working at wages below the poverty line, in a rich country. That's amazing,” he said.
Four million Americans are working at minimum wage or lower. Many think these jobs can be a stepping stone to something better — but in his new book, "Good Jobs America," Osterman argues that most workers get trapped in these low-paying jobs.

Osterman said that state and local governments needed to do more to boost the average wages of workers, and that Congress will need to create millions of quality jobs in order to lift the country out of its current economic malaise.

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