New Research Finds 36 Million U.S. Workers Are Stuck in High-Churn, Low-Pay Jobs

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 8:05 AM CDT

Multiverse and the Burning Glass Institute partner to identify pathways to better jobs through apprenticeships

NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- With more than 36 million U.S. workers stranded in high-churn, low-pay jobs, the status quo U.S. education and training system is failing to deliver mobility for workers and is limiting the supply of quality, skilled talent for employers to stay competitive in today's labor market.


New research from Multiverse and the Burning Glass Institute (BGI) reveals that by expanding apprenticeships to occupations currently reliant on traditional credentialing pathways, the U.S. can move millions of employees into better-paying jobs while solving talent pain points for employers. Part one of the multi-part research series from Multiverse and BGI, Unlocking Potential: Pathways for Low-Wage Workers to Quality Jobs Through Apprenticeships, presents data on how reskilling programs can create on-ramps to high-mobility, high-quality, well-paying jobs for those currently in high-churn, low-wage roles.

America's High-Churn, Low-Wage Workforce

The report finds that, across the continental US, between 20% and 30% of each state's workforce is employed in "high-churn, low-pay," jobs – that is, those with a median job tenure of 18 months or less, and with a median hourly wage of $17 or below.

The most common occupations in this category include delivery/sales workers and truck drivers; retail salespersons; cashiers; janitors and building cleaners; and cooks. While these positions typically offer limited career mobility, workers in these roles often possess the skills and traits most valuable and transferable to "feed" in-demand employers and industries.

"Even as employers struggle to fill critical roles, there is so much potential talent throughout the entire workforce that has yet to be tapped," said Matt Sigelman, President of the Burning Glass Institute. "Front-line workers are like stem cells, with many of the capabilities needed for higher-value work. Apprenticeships enable companies to unlock the potential hidden within their own workforces, building the skills and experience that bridge the gap between the talent they have and the talent they need for the future."

The Opportunity of Up- and Reskilling

Many of the most in-demand skills employers seek in hiring are also commonly held skills among the high-churn, low-wage workforce. Skills like customer service, communications, management, and operations are transferable and developed through on-the-job applied learning. The analysis identified high-fidelity "apprentice-able" occupations in the U.S. that represent strong career pathways for those in high-churn, low-wage jobs, regardless of where workers developed their current skill set.

These target jobs include:

  • Computer occupations (System Engineers, IT Project Managers, GIS Technologists/Technicians, Document Management Specialists)
  • Data Scientists
  • Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
  • Project Management Specialists
  • Software Developers

The benefits of such positions extend beyond improved wages and lower turnover. Target jobs offer high growth potential, include better benefits, provide on-the-job training, and are accessible without a college degree. As employers increasingly question the necessity of degree requirements, they will need to expand where they search for talent and create new pathways for upward mobility.

"Millions of U.S. workers skilled through alternative routes possess the skills that are required for the target jobs identified in this research," said Rebecca Agostino, VP of Learning at Multiverse. "When organizations hire apprentices, they get access to incredible, diverse talent – while also improving their own bottom lines through the value apprentices provide on the job."

Future Proofing the Workforce Through Apprenticeships

The roadblocks to reaching target jobs represent an opportunity for organizations to invest in apprenticeship programs that unlock new talent pools and offer avenues for more high-churn, low-wage workers to step up.

This has never been more important, as the acceleration and maturation of AI-based technologies have led to widespread concern about automation-induced job loss. The research found that 73% of low-wage feeder occupations are highly vulnerable to automation. Five roles in particular were deemed to be especially exposed to automation-based disruption:

  • Telemarketers
  • Door-to-door Sales Workers and News and Street Vendors
  • Switchboard Operators
  • Medical Transcriptionists
  • Receptionists and Information Clerks

Reskilling individuals currently working in high-churn, low-wage roles can increase diversity across the workforce, as non-white, female, and foreign-born workers often dominate these positions. Organizations that adopt apprenticeships can improve economic equity and mobility for disadvantaged communities by improving access to quality jobs.

To download the full report from Multiverse and the Burning Glass Institute, visit here. To determine how Multiverse can help your company transform through reskilling, visit here.

About Multiverse

Multiverse is a tech startup on a mission to create a diverse group of future leaders by building an outstanding alternative to university and corporate training. They offer professional apprenticeships to a diverse pool of young adults and existing employees looking to upskill or reskill. Multiverse works with over 1,000 businesses, helping them embrace digital transformation, close skills gaps and develop a diverse pipeline of talent. Apprentices benefit from individualized coaching, applied learning, and a community of social, networking and leadership opportunities.

For more information, please visit

About Burning Glass Institute

The Burning Glass Institute (BGI) believes that everyone deserves meaningful work and the chance to move up. A fully independent non-profit, they advance data-driven research and practice on the future of work and on the future of learning. The Institute works with educators, employers, and policymakers to develop solutions that build mobility, opportunity, and equity through skills. Through their expertise in mining new datasets for actionable insight, the Burning Glass Institute's discourse-shaping research draws attention to pressing problems and frames the potential for new approaches. Through project-based engagement and collectives, BGI puts ideas into practice, bringing forward solutions that are high-impact and replicable.

Building on a legacy of breakthrough innovation in labor market analytics, the Institute serves as a trusted source bridging industry, educators, policy makers, and workers. As rapid change increasingly challenges employers and workers alike, the Institute delivers insightful analysis of labor market trends and develops innovative models for economic mobility and workforce equity.

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SOURCE Multiverse

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