75% of American
Workers Lack Decent Wages and Benefits
Immediate Release: October
Erskine, 202-293-5380 x115
Washington, DC -- Only 25.2 percent of American
workers have a job that pays at least $16 per hour and provides health insurance
and a pension, according to a new study by the Center for Economic and Policy
The report, "How Good is the Economy at
Creating Good Jobs?" found that between 1979 and 2004 the share of American
workers in good jobs remained unchanged at about 25 percent, despite strong
economic growth over that period. (The report defines a "good job" as
one that offers at least $16 per hour or $32,000 annually, employer-paid health
insurance and a pension.) In the last quarter century, the U.S. workforce has
become older, more experienced and better educated, but 75 percent of workers
are still struggling in jobs that do not provide health insurance, a pension and
solid middle-class wages.
"The U.S. economy has failed to convert
long-term economic growth into better jobs," said John Schmitt, CEPR
economist and author of the report. "Despite huge improvements in the
average educational level our workforce, most American workers still don't have
a job that pays a decent wage and provides health insurance and a pension."
Since 1979, inflation-adjusted GDP per person
increased 60 percent, but the percentage of workers in good jobs remained
unchanged at about 25 percent. If the workforce had not experienced dramatic
improvements, the share of good jobs would have fallen 25 to 30 percent, despite
large increases in the capital stock per worker and significant technological
progress over the period. Moreover, the decline in the underlying ability of the
economy to create good jobs is likely an underestimate since this calculation
does not control for the larger capital stock or technological advances, both of
which should have made it much easier for the economy to produce good jobs.
The study also found that 26.6 percent of the
workforce is in a job that pays poorly and offers neither health insurance nor a
pension. This is close to the share of Americans in bad jobs in 1979 (27.9
"How Good is the Economy at Creating Good
Jobs?" was based on analysis of data from the March Current Population
Survey (CPS). It is the first in a series to explore recent trends in job
quality in the U.S. economy.
access to the report see "How
Good is the Economy at Creating Good Jobs?"
The Center for Economic
and Policy Research is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was
established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and
social issues that affect people's lives.