CLEVELAND — Seven out of the top 10 occupations in Ohio are now low-wage jobs, according to a recently released report.
In 2000, four out of the top 10 were low-wage jobs, the analysis, based on U.S. Labor Department and other government data, showed. It was conducted by the left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio.
Cashier is one of the jobs on the top-10 list considered low-paying by Policy Matters Ohio.
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“You can’t look at the most common occupations and then look at the changes and say everything is OK in terms of what people are making,” said Hannah Halbert, the nonprofit’s lead work-force researcher, who wrote the report. “People aren’t getting paid enough.”
“Seven of the 10 largest occupational categories paid so little in 2016 that a family of three would struggle,” she said. “They would qualify for such things as food assistance.”
Ms. Halbert ranked the top 10 occupations in both 2000 and 2016 based on how far their annual median earnings were above the poverty rate. In 2016, the poverty rate for a family of three was $20,160. Jobs were deemed to be at least moderate paying if median earnings were at least 130 percent above poverty. That meant that a worker would have to had made at least $26,125 a year.
In 2016, these jobs on the top 10 list had median earnings that were less than 130 percent of poverty: food preparation and serving worker, including fast-food workers; retail salesmen, cashier, laborer and freight, stock and material movers; waiters and waitresses, janitors and cleaners, and stock clerks and order fillers.
The 2000 list only included these jobs at less than 130 percent of poverty: retail salesmen, cashier, food preparation and serving worker, and janitor and cleaners.
Most of the low-wage occupations that made both lists were closer to poverty in 2016 than they had been in 2000. Janitors and cleaners, for example, had earnings 124 percent above poverty in 2000. By 2016, their earnings had slipped to 116 percent of poverty.
Looking at only the top three occupations from both 2000 and 2016, one would assume low-wage occupations were on the decline. In 2000, all of the top three occupations were low-wage jobs: retail salesmen, cashier, and food prep and serving worker. The top three in 2016 were: food prep and serving worker, retail salesmen, and registered nurse, a profession where median earnings were more than 300 percent above poverty.
A look at the bottom five occupations from both years shows the rapid growth in low-wage jobs in Ohio in the 21st century. In 2016, two of the bottom five jobs had earnings that were at least 130 percent of poverty: office clerk and customer service representative.
This is the first quarterly report Policy Matters will do as part of the Blue Collar Jobs Tracker project lunched by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. The think tank is examining these sectors because they offer many good-paying jobs that often require only a certificate and increasingly an associate’s degree.
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