The think-tank defined low-wage jobs as those paying less than the overall average of $40,000 annually.
Between 2001 and 2010, the region created 42,000 net new jobs in low-wage industries, with call centres and the retail trade leading the way, the study said.
By contrast, only 11,000 net new jobs in high-wage industries were created, mainly because of expansion of the public sector.
Senior economist David Chaundy said that in the private sector, the creation of 14,000 high-wage jobs in construction was not enough to offset the loss of 28,000 positions in manufacturing.
Looking ahead, the council says the public sector will not be a major source of high-wage jobs because federal and provincial governments are focused on cutting costs. As well, declining school enrolment will lead to fewer education jobs.
In the private sector, the council is calling for flat housing markets and a limited impact from major projects over the next few years. That will limit high-wage job growth in construction and professional services, the study says.
The exception is Nova Scotia, where a $25-billion federal shipbuilding contract is expected to create a "pocket of growth."
The study concludes that New Brunswick faced the biggest challenges during the decade, shedding 10,300 manufacturing jobs since 2001 as several mills closed in the forest products sector.
However, those losses were offset by high-wage job gains in construction, financial services and the public sector.
The study says Newfoundland and Labrador continued to enjoy an investment boom in its oil and mining industries between 2005 and 2010, which added 4,800 high-wage jobs in construction and professional services.
As well, the province benefited from the growth of its public sector, which added 4,700 jobs during the same period.
In Nova Scotia, high-wage jobs increased over the decade, mainly due to public sector hiring that followed federal cutbacks in the 1990s.
In the private sector, however, the 3,000 high-wage jobs added in financial services in the latter half of the decade were overshadowed by the loss of 9,600 manufacturing jobs since 2001.
In P.E.I., high-wage job growth in food processing and construction largely evaporated in the second half of the decade, contributing to a net loss of high-wage jobs in the private sector.
As in the other provinces, the Island sustained its creation of high-wage jobs between 2005 and 2010 by expanding its public sector.