Sunday, February 28, 2010

Low wage earners in Western New York live on the edge

The University at Buffalo Regional Institute has released a policy brief in February, 2010, which describes the plight of low wage earners in Western New York.

Here is part of what the press release says about the report:

From cashiers to child care workers, low-wage jobs are filling a growing segment of the Western New York economy, placing more and more Western New Yorkers on the brink of poverty, according to a policy brief released today by the UB Regional Institute.

Between 2004 and 2008, jobs in low-paying occupations, with average annual wages below $30,000, increased 17 percent, while middle-wage jobs ($30,000-$70,000) declined 10 percent. In 2009, one in four jobs was in an occupation with median annual wages below $22,000, the federal poverty line for a family of four.

A little further the report says:

The brief presents a range of measures of poverty and low-wage work. For example, a full-time job at minimum wage garners just over $15,000 a year. The federal poverty line sets $14,570 as the threshold for a two-person family, well below the $36,000 "living wage" to meet basic needs for a single parent and child, as estimated by Penn State's Living Wage Calculator.

A full time worker making minimum wage of $7.25/hr makes $15,080.00 per year.

The poverty level for one person is $10,830.00
The poverty level for two people is $14,570.00
The poverty level for three people is $18,310.00
The poverty level for four people is $22,050.
The poverty level for five people is $25,790.00

Only 10 of GCASA's 89 employees make over $40,000.00 per year. The remaining 79 employees average $26,5000.00 The median wage for jobs in Western New York in 2009 was $31,810.00.

Many of GCASA's employees are living at or below the poverty level. This has huge implications for workers and their families, for the communities in which they live, for government which contracts for GCASA's services, and for civic organizations which must provide a safety net and support services for families struggling.

You can access the report by clicking here.

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