CBS: CBS: Why So Many Americans Aren’t Looking for Work

“The fact we have still have millions outside of the workforce is attributable to both a lack of opportunities and that the nature of the available opportunities out there may not be strong enough in terms of wages and benefits,” Claire McKenna with the National Employment Law Project (NELP) told CBS MoneyWatch.

McKenna is the co-author of ”Occupational Wage Declines Since the Great Recession,” which found that when increases in the cost of living since the recession ended in 2009 are factored in, wages have actually declined for most occupations. The report also noted that this trend is decades old.

McKenna’s study flagged that this wage decline was most pronounced for the lowest-wage workers in service-sector occupations in home health care, retail and restaurant sectors. Specifically from mid-2009 until 2014, cooks saw almost a 9 percent drop in their wages, janitors lost 6.6 percent and retail workers dropped 5 percent.

“Even when workers at the bottom got a boost with the 2009 hike in the federal minimum wage to $7.25, McKenna said, “six years later it’s actual value in real terms was 33 percent lower in 2014 than it was at its peak buying power in 1968.”

McKenna’s findings are based on data from the Occupational Employment Series Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks wage and employment trends for 800 occupations. “Averaged across all occupations, real median hourly wages declined by 4.0 percent from 2009 to 2014,” according to the NELP report.

Read the full article at CBS Money Watch.

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