April 1, 2013

Low-Wage Workers Top Job Gains but Remain Pessimistic About the Future

graph linesAccording to a survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, even as lower-income workers have posted the largest jobs gains of any workforce sector since the beginning of the recession, few are optimistic about their future. Included in the study were those workers earning an annual income of $35,000 or less. The general mood of the sector was one of pessimism about finances and career prospects as many lower-income workers perceive themselves to be worse off than during the recession.

Many respondents saw their jobs as dead end with half of the sector either “not too” or “not at all” confident that their jobs would benefit their career plans. Just 41 percent of workers laboring within the lower-income bracket for at least 10 years reported ever receiving a promotion. However, 44 percent of employers reported finding difficulty in recruiting for workers to fill lower-wage positions. Nearly 90 percent of employers reported that they were investing in training for employee advancement though employee awareness of such programs was low.

On the upside, nearly three-quarters of lower-income workers reported being at least somewhat satisfied with their jobs, though this number is down from 90 percent obtained in a similar poll conducted in September 2012. Most organizations seemed unaware of the surge in low-wage jobs as only 22 percent reported a lower-wage workforce expansion over the past four years and about one-third expect it to increase by 2017.

“Lower-wage jobs are coming back first,” said labor economist Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute, “but it’s all bleak and it’s all due to lack of demand for work to be done. We’re still not getting more than just what we need to hang on,” Shierholz said. “These last few months have looked better, but we cannot yet claim robust recovery by any stretch.”

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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.