A Closer Look

Low Wages and Labor Shortages

Economy Watch – Lots of restaurant jobs; not lots of pay

For all you foodies hoping to land a gig in the glamorous restaurant industry in the months and years ahead, there will be plenty of jobs to be had. The problem is, many of the jobs don’t come with a glamorous paycheck.

Spring and summer hiring in the restaurant sector is expected to be robust, barring any unforeseen issues such as skyrocketing gas prices, said Hudson Riehle, an economist and head of research for the National Restaurant Association, on Monday. Preliminary estimates for employment this summer are expected to top the 425,000 jobs the sector created last year, he said. The industry trade group will release an official summer hiring report in May or June.

“The restaurant industry added 530,000 jobs since the end of the recession, about 150,000 above the pre-recession peak,” he explained, adding that the growth pattern is exactly the opposite of national employment numbers, which are “still below pre-recession peaks.”

Annual job growth in the segment is projected to increase by 2.3 percent this year, up from a 1.9 percent uptick in 2011, according to a recent National Restaurant Association study….

Source:

via Economy Watch – Lots of restaurant jobs; not lots of pay.

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India’s coconut industry: big business, but few humans willing to do the work | | The Bulletin

Retired government worker and small-time coconut farmer Prakasan Thattari is very proud of his invention: a machine with the look of a giant metallic praying mantis that clangs fearlessly up vertigo-inducing coconut trees.

It climbs well, but has a little trouble cutting off the coconuts once up there, said Thattari, who estimates that he’s gone through thousands of dollars tinkering with various gizmos. “I spent all my retirement money,” he said. “The machine is close to my heart.”

Here in India’s southern state of Kerala, a lush land known as “God’s country,” coconuts are big business: The state boasts more than 500 million coconut trees, covering 40 percent of its land. But these days, coconut farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to find pickers.

Younger, better-educated workers shun manual labor for more prestigious “chair” jobs….

Source:

Read More @ India’s coconut industry: big business, but few humans willing to do the work | | The Bulletin.

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The Problem of Low-Wage Jobs – CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST

John Schmitt discusses “Low-wage Lessons” in a January 2012 paper written for the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Define “low-wage jobs” as those that involve earning two-thirds or less of the median hourly wage: that is, those earning less than about $10/hour. As Schmitt notes: “If low-wage work were a short-term state that helped connect labor-market entrants or re-entrants to longer-term, well-paid employment, high shares of low-wage work would be less of a social concern. Indeed, if low-wage work facilitated transitions from unemployment to well-paid jobs, countries might want to encourage the creation of a low-wage sector to improve workers’ welfare in the long term.” On the other side, if low-wage jobs are a near-permanent state of affairs for a substantial group of workers, or if such jobs even send a negative signal to potential future employers that this worker is going to have low productivity, then the prevalence of low-wage jobs may be of real policy concern.

Given the rising levels of inequality in the U.S. economy in recent decades, it’s not a big surprise that the share of workers who can be classified as “low-wage” has been rising, from about 22% of the workforce in 1979 to about 28% of the workforce by 2009.

Moreover, the share of U.S. workers who are low-wage is considerably higher than in many other high-income countries. About one-quarter of U.S. workers are low-wage, compared with 20-21% in the UK, Canada and Germany; about 15% in Japan; and 8% in Norway and Italy.

The issue here can be summed up with this question: If someone in the U.S. economy is a law-abiding citizen who works full-time for a period of years, can they earn a level of wages that let them afford a slice of middle-class standard of living? If you are earning $10/hour and working 2,000 hours per year, your annual earnings of $20,000 would put you below the poverty line of $22,891 for a single parent with three children.

Source:

via CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST: The Problem of Low-Wage Jobs.

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