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Michael R. Strain

There Are No 'Dead End' Jobs in This Hot Labor Market

The rapid increase in pay for low-wage jobs won’t last. But it illustrates how much workers’ advancement depends on a strong economy.

And what about the bonus and health benefits?

And what about the bonus and health benefits?

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Improved opportunities for low-wage workers are leading to a rethinking of the acceptability of what some would refer to as “dead end” jobs. The question is: How can the U.S. sustain those gains?

Right now, wages in the fast-food sector are competing with manufacturing. Businesses, which often grouse about labor shortages even when there are plenty of qualified people, are actually following up on their complaints with action this time. We hear story after story of employers boosting pay and offering bonuses, gift cards and other perks to attract and retain workers in lower-wage sectors.