Living Wage Jobs in 2017

Something we do not always keep in mind when we are helping people out of poverty and into self-sufficiency is the fact that we do not have a lot of jobs that pay a living wage.

Here are a few facts:

  1. Job growth since the Great Recession has mostly come from low-wage jobs that do not pay enough to cover basic needs.
  2. Nationally, there were 51 million low-wage jobs in 2013 paying less than $15/hr.
  3. For every job paying a living wage or higher, there are seven job-seekers.
  4. Almost half (48%) of projected job openings will pay less than $15/hr.
  5. The largest occupation growth across the nation are jobs that pay less than $15/hr.
  6. The top four fastest growing jobs are in retail and food service with wages ranging between $8-$10/hr.
  7. There are more living wage jobs in healthcare. The healthcare industry is largely recession-proof and because of the baby boomers, it is one of the largest and fastest growing industries.

Consider this: If we raise the minimum wage, less than 20% of families in poverty will benefit. A lot of the benefit goes to first-time workers and teens. Low income families can take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit and add up to $6000 to their annual income. If you divided that by 2080 hours, that’s almost a $3/hr raise.

We probably shouldn’t pay top dollar for fast-food workers or bellhops, but it’s the only job some people can find, regardless of their education and skill level.

All of this begs the question—how do we turn this around so workers have any hope of making a living wage?