New Research: One-Third of Alaska's Jobs are "Bad Jobs"
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options. Toward this end, CEPR conducts both professional research and public education.
CEPR has an excellent website which is an invaluable resource for national and state-specific research. A recent study, Working Families and Economic Insecurity in the States: The Role of Job Quality and Work Supports, provides information on job quality and the economic security of working families in the states in the first half of the current decade. It also quantifies the important role that public work supports—benefits for workers such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and child care assistance—play in helping workers make ends meet.
This study found that in Alaska:
- 27% of jobs are “good jobs.” A good job as one that pays well—at least $17 an hour, the median wage for men in 1979 (in inflation-adjusted 2006 dollars)—and provides employer-sponsored health and retirement benefits.
- 33.3% of the jobs are “bad jobs.” A bad job is one that meets none of the “good jobs” criteria. Bad jobs pay less than $17 an hour, don’t come with health insurance, and don’t offer a retirement plan.
- 16% of the people in working families are economically insecure because their earnings and income from other sources, including public work supports and other public benefits, falls below the basic family budget standard for where they live.
- The typical (median) monthly income of economically insecure families in Alaska is $1,804.
- $722 is the “hardship gap,” the difference between a family’s income and the basic budget standard for where they live.
- 67% of the gap between basic needs and income—the hardship gap—is closed by public work supports. The public work supports are child care assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, housing assistance, and Temporary Assistance.
- 5% of the people (people in working families) are lifted to or above the basic family budget threshold by public work supports.
Researchers’ conclusions: “America’s social contract needs to be updated to ensure the economy works for all Americans. Key elements of such a reform include strengthening basic labor market standards and institutions, expanding workers’ access to post-secondary education and
training, and reforming the system of public and private social benefits for workers.”