Not Necessarily Bad News
By Arnold Kling
The US Has the Highest Share of Employees in Low Wage Work
Check out his chart, which shows that other OECD countries have a smaller share of employees doing low-wage work.
This seems like bad news for the U.S. However, that might not be the case, depending on the causal factor.
Suppose, for example, that one place has a higher minimum wage than another. The higher minimum wage will reduce the low-wage share of the work force, but that does not necessarily mean that low-skill workers are better off.
What you want to know is:
1. Where do policies best facilitate the acquisition of skills by workers?
2. For a given mix of skills, where do policies best facilitate employment and earnings?
It could be that the U.S. does poorly at both. However, (1) is difficult to answer (among other things, you have to separate out the effect of public policy from the effects of demographics and other factors that affect skill levels). And (2) historically has favored the U.S., because of we used to have less onerous burdens on employers (I am not sure this is still true, given what we spend on employer-provided health insurance).