Youth at risk from parents' low-wage jobs

Nov. 29, 2012 at 1:23 AM

BOSTON, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- One-in-6 U.S. adolescents faces higher risk of obesity, dropping out of school and poverty because their parents are stuck in low-wage jobs, researchers say.

Randy Albelda, a professor of economics at University of Massachusetts in Boston, and Lisa Dodson, professor of sociology at Boston College, said two of every three new U.S. jobs over the next decade are projected to be low-paying.

Approximately 16 million U.S. families are headed by parents working low-wage jobs, and the low-quality jobs are taking a harmful, far-reaching toll on the children of parents who work them -- triggering higher dropout rates and obesity among adolescents and prolonging poverty.

The researchers used more than 100 studies and sources for their interdisciplinary research overview of what is known about the relationship between the status of youth and their parents' low-wage jobs.

"The new American economy is likely to put more young people at risk, simply because of the kinds of jobs available to their parents -- retail salespeople, care attendants and janitors," Albelda said in a statement. "Simply having a job is not enough for parents to ensure a successful future for their kids. Having a parent in a low-wage job can cause lasting harm to a young person's health, education and overall development, and those jobs are becoming increasingly prominent in the U.S. economy."

Many low-wage parents' earnings are so low they cannot cover the basics, and the jobs often have inflexible schedules that conflict with or disrupt family time, the study said.

"There's been a 30-year decline in middle-class jobs and simultaneous growth in low-wage service sectors, so that many jobs do not provide the wages or flexibility parents needs to raise a stable, safe family," Dodson said.

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