Median wage of manufacturing workers declines

American manufacturing jobs, which were once considered a good source of middle-class income, increasingly are paying wages that can barely support a family, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project.

More than 600,000 U.S. manufacturing workers earn less than $9.60 an hour, and 1.5 million — or a quarter of all manufacturing workers — make $11.91 or less, the report says.

For three decades between 1976 and 2006, manufacturing workers earned a better median wage than the average U.S. worker. But by 2013, the manufacturing median wage was 7.7 percent lower than the U.S. median.

The automotive sector in particular has contributed to the decline, the report said. Between 2003 and 2013, real wages for auto parts workers fell nearly 14 percent. Some 14 percent of workers in the auto parts sector are employed by staffing agencies, earning 29 percent less on average than workers employed by auto parts manufacturers.

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