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Report: Nearly half of Reno-area workers hold low-wage jobs (subscriber content)

By John Seelmeyer
Published: Last Updated on

Nearly half of the working people in the Reno-Sparks are employed in low-wage jobs, finds a new analysis by the Brookings Institute.

The study says 47.4 percent of the area’s workers aged 18-64 earn less than $16.79 an hour.

Their median earnings are $10.56 an hour, and their median annual income is $16,687.

In their definition of “low-wage” jobs, the researchers from Brookings Institute used a figure that’s two-thirds of the median pay earned by working men, then adjusted it to reflect the cost of living in the Reno area compared with the rest of the country.

Reno has a slightly higher percentage of low-wage workers than the rest of the country. Nationwide, the study found that 44 percent of workers fall into the low-wage category, 

In the Reno area, the jobs that most commonly paid low wages included retail sales, janitorial, food service and distribution.

The study found that low-wage workers are found across demographic groups.  About 18 percent of the low-wage workers in the Reno area, for instance, are aged 51-64.  The 18-24 age group accounts for about 25 percent of the workers making less than $16.79.

While education clearly helps boost people into higher-paying jobs, the study found that more schooling doesn’t automatically mean more pay.

Slightly more than 30 percent of low-wage workers in the region have high school diplomas, another 31 percent have some college and more than 11 percent of the low-wage jobs in the region are held by college graduates. 

On the other hand, college graduates hold more than 37 percent of the medium- and high-wage jobs in the region.

The Washington-based Brookings Institute is often described as “progressive” or “center left.”