October 2007, Randy Albelda and Heather Boushey, with Elizabeth Chimienti, Rebecca Ray, and Ben Zipperer

Tens of Millions of Low-Wage Workers Fall Into Gap Left by Employers and Government

This report is the culmination of a multi-state study on the extent to which work supports—policies to ensure families can access basics, such as health care, child care, food and housing—fill in the gaps for families whose jobs offer low wages or inadequate benefits.

Our findings are clear. To fill in the gaps, we need to focus on better wages, mandates for employers to provide employment-based benefits, and work supports—or some combination of the three. Better wages and improved employment-based benefits for health care, retirement, and paid time off could make every job a good job. But there is a critical role for public work supports. Work supports must reach all families who need them. Despite low incomes, many families with low-wage workers do not have access to work supports because they are either ineligible or not receiving supports to which they are entitled. This problem is not unique to one locality, but is common across all of the states in our study. The work support that is most effective at reaching families is the EITC, and we should use this as a model to simplify the eligibility criteria and application requirements for other work supports.

National Report pdf_small

Technical Report pdf_small

Press Release

Podcast featuring Heather Boushey discussing work supports (scroll down to #15)