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Report: Idaho Living Wage Jobs are Scarce
Idaho State Journal
The Alliance for a Just Society

December 9, 2010
View the Original Article


BOISE — Despite widespread talk of economic recovery, jobs that pay enough to meet a family’s needs in Idaho are few and far between, according to a new report released today and prepared by the Alliance for a Just Society. The 2010 Northwest Job Gap Report, Searching for Work that Pays, finds that 53 percent of job openings pay less than a living wage for a single adult. The numbers only get worse for working families: 88 percent pay less than the living wage for a family with two adults (one working) with two children.

These figures are even more devastating when compared to the numbers being posted by corporations and Wall Street. While millions desperately try to make ends meet, U.S. corporations are reaping record profits. Between July and September alone, they raked in money at the all-time high of $1.66 trillion.

The appalling disparities between people and corporations are brought to light by findings in this annual report Job Gap report. The report, which supplies data for all counties in Idaho, calculates a living wage for a variety of family sizes, and then measures how many job openings in Idaho pay that wage.

A living wage is a wage that allows a family to meet its basic needs without public assistance and provides it some ability to save money for emergencies and to plan ahead. The report finds that in Idaho a single adult needs to earn $29,642 a year to meet his or her needs. A family of four with two working adults needs $75,372 a year.

The report also finds that, in Idaho, for every 30 job seekers, there is only one available job that pays a living wage of $55,002 a year for a family of three. The shortfall in living wage jobs forces families to make impossible decisions, juggling scarce dollars between buying milk for the baby or gas for the car.

“I work hard every day, yet we live-day-to-day, paycheck-to-paycheck,” says Diana Corcorran, member of the Idaho Community Action Network. “It seems like we will never be able to get ahead, never be able to save for our children’s education or retirement. It is an awful feeling.”

For many in Idaho, public investments in families and communities are more important than ever. Yet supports like unemployment insurance, child care, and basic health are threatened by the public revenue crisis, while corporate profits escalate

“We need to make public investments that create living wage jobs,” says Leo Morales, Policy Director at the Idaho Community Action Network. “We need to make sure corporations are paying their fair share in taxes and giving back to communities, instead of kicking people out of their homes. Support needs to be there not just for Wall Street, but for the people in our communities who need it most.”