More Low-Wage Workers Supporting Families

(Memphis) At the age of 73, Bernice Craft stills gets on a bus several days a week to clean houses.

She’s part of a new trend of more grandmothers supporting a house full of kids and grandchildren.

She also represents one of the nearly 21 million low-wage workers in this country who are the breadwinner of the family.

“I’m helping out because the girls are unemployed and I’m helping with the children and other things,” said Craft.

A new study by economist at the University of Massachusetts Boston shows while the number of U.S. Workers grew by 40 percent over the last 30 years, the number of low-wage workers who also live in low-income homes is up 94 percent.

That means one in seven workers live in a home whose main source of income is a low-paying job.

University of Memphis Economist Jeff Wallace says in a tight labor market people will take any type of job to make ends meet.

“So as long as there are a surplus amount of workers if you got a job you ought to keep it, but also keep looking for a better job,” said Dr. Jeff Wallace.

The numbers may be new to the rest of the country, but Wallace says this is something Memphis has been dealing with for years with an abundance of unskilled and uneducated workers.

“Take whatever you can get,” said Steve Payne.

Steve Payne is working as a dishwasher, but going to school to find a better job.

He says right now he’s just glad to have full-time, steady work.

“I’m blessed to have the job. I’m blessed to have it,” said Payne.

The UMass Boston study shows that single women still make up the largest share of the nation’s low-paid workers, but men are increasingly falling into that category.

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