WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Wages from employment are the primary source of income for most people.[i] Wages for a particular region should be examined in comparison to a reliable measure of the cost of living (see Self-Sufficiency Wage). Low-wage jobs have significant effects on individuals and households and their abilities to meet basic needs. Low wages also increase the likelihood that a household will be dependent on social services and programs that provide rent or food assistance. Higher average wages might reflect a favorable occupation-and-skills mix, higher productivity, a higher cost of living, or simply greater demand for labor. [ii] Relatively low wages can reflect an unfavorable occupation-and-skills mix, relatively low productivity, a lower cost of living, or inadequate demand for labor. Increasing skills and knowledge of the workforce and increasing the number of high-skill, high-wage jobs can increase the average wage. Increases in wages are correlated with increased productivity, which is beneficial to business prosperity in general.[iii]
[i] Katy Hull, “Understanding the Relationship between Economic Growth, Employment and Poverty Reduction,” Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
[ii] Michael Kremer and Eric Maskin, “Wage Inequality and Segregation by Skill,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, no.5718 (1996).
[iii] David Levine, “Can Wage Increases Pay For Themselves? Tests with a Productive Function,” The Economic Journal 102, no. 414 (1992): 1102-1115.