More men earning poverty-level wages



By Elise Gould

Contributing Writer


In honor of Father’s Day, the Economic Policy Institute looked at the wages of male workers at the prime age for raising young children. While women have always been more likely to earn poverty-level wages than men (wages less than what a full-time, year-round worker needs to sustain a family of four at the official poverty threshold), women have seen some improvement over the last three-and-a-half decades. Their rates of poverty-level wages have declined, especially among those 35 to 44 years old.

On the other hand, men between 25 and 44 have seen precipitous increases in the number working at such low wages, more than doubling between 1979 and 2013. This trend has been particularly stark among the younger age group.

The figure below shows the share of male and female workers between 25 and 34 and between 35 and 44 years old who earn poverty-level wages. In 2013, that hourly wage was $11.49. Over one-fourth of men 25-34 years old earned poverty-level wages in 2013.

The bottom line is there are a great many adults, and an increasing share of men, stuck in very low-paying jobs, and they are the same people who are responsible for raising the next generation.


The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is an independent, nonprofit think tank that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States.

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