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Low Wage Earners and Low Wage Jobs in Greater Boston

Anneta Argyres, University of Massachusetts Boston
Brandynn Holgate, University of Massachusetts Boston
Susan Moir, University of Massachusetts Boston

Abstract

Anybody who has ever been employed can readily list the qualities of a good job. Some are easily identified factors, such as good wages, health benefits, paid sick and vacation time, and a pension plan. Others are harder to measure, such as job security, reasonable workloads, flexible work schedules, workplace safety and health, or being treated with respect. In either case, it’s clear that job quality is something to which every working person pays attention.

We should also be concerned about job quality as a society. A society that is characterized by jobs with family sustaining wages and benefits will look very different from one where many people struggle to live on low wages with poor benefits. The effects of low-wages and poor benefits are felt across generations and throughout our society as each family’s economic status is associated with the health, educational attainment, and dependence on public services of its members. Job related benefits—specifically, health care and retirement benefits—are of particular importance in the United States, where the federal government does not offer universal health care and provides only limited pensions to retirees through Social Security.

Public attention to the need for good jobs and the growing prosperity divide in the United States, spurred us to ask: what is happening locally in Boston’s job market? In order to explore this question, we focused on low wage work as a marker of the lack of good, or decent, jobs. In this study, we set out to explore two questions:

• What is the extent of low-wage employment in the Boston area?

• How have patterns of low wage employment in Boston changed over time?

Suggested Citation

Anneta Argyres, Brandynn Holgate, and Susan Moir. "Low Wage Earners and Low Wage Jobs in Greater Boston" 2012
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/susan_moir/8