Economic Snapshot | Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

Over One-Fourth of Men 25-34 Years Old Earned Poverty-Level Wages in 2013

In honor of Father’s Day, we 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, as 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 share working at such low wages, with the share 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.

Economic Snapshot

An increasing share of men of child-rearing age earn low wages: Share of workers earning poverty-level hourly wages, by gender and age group, 1979 and 2013

Gender Age 1979 2013
Men 25–34 10.8% 26.1%
Men 35–44 7.6% 15.4%
Women 25–34 33.3% 30.5%
Women 35–44 36.2% 23.8%
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Note: The poverty-level wage in 2013 was $11.45.

Source: Authors' analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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See related work on Income and wages | Inequality and Poverty

See more work by Elise Gould