New State Briefs on the Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Construction Industry

Our new research briefs highlight the public cost of low wages and few benefits in some sectors of the construction industry in states across the country. Modeled after a national report released earlier this year, these briefs examine participation in safety net programs among construction working families in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Wisconsin. These analyses join others in this series on the public cost of low-wage jobs in the construction industry conducted for the states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.

Construction was historically known as an industry where workers without a college education could find family-supporting jobs. Now, job quality for some construction workers has deteriorated to the point that they earn wages too low to make ends meet and therefore fall back on the public safety net to make up the difference.

In these briefs, we look at the participation of construction workers and their families in five means-tested safety net programs in each state. Across these states, we find that working families in the construction industry are more likely than all working families to participate in one or more means-tested safety net programs, ranging from 8% more likely in Wisconsin to 41% more likely in Arizona. In addition, the rate at which construction workers in these states lack health insurance is 2 to 3 times the rate of all workers.

All reports in our public cost of low-wage work series are available here.