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Low-wage Workers Are Older and Better Educated than Ever


  • John Schmitt
  • Janelle Jones


Relative to any of the most common benchmarks – the cost of living, the wages of the average worker, or average productivity levels – the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is well below its historical value. These usual reference points, however, understate the true erosion in the minimum wage in recent decades because the average low-wage worker today is both older and much better educated than the average low-wage worker was in the past.

Suggested Citation

  • John Schmitt & Janelle Jones, 2012. "Low-wage Workers Are Older and Better Educated than Ever," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2012-11, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
  • Handle: RePEc:epo:papers:2012-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fernald, Lia C.H. & Hidrobo, Melissa, 2011. "Effect of Ecuador's cash transfer program (Bono de Desarrollo Humano) on child development in infants and toddlers: A randomized effectiveness trial," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(9), pages 1437-1446, May.
    2. Mark Weisbrot & Luis Sandoval, 2009. "Update on the Ecuadorian Economy," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2009-22, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    3. Christina Paxson & Norbert Schady, 2010. "Does Money Matter? The Effects of Cash Transfers on Child Development in Rural Ecuador," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(1), pages 187-229, October.
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    More about this item


    minimum wage; low-wage; education; age;

    JEL classification:

    • J - Labor and Demographic Economics
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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