Contact: Rich Rohde 772-4029
September 23, 2004
Over Three Quarters of Job Openings Do Not Pay a Living Wage for Oregon Families
Medford, OR - Today, Oregon Action and the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations released "Searching for Work that Pays: 2004 Northwest Job Gap Study." This study gives alarming news about the lack of living wage job openings in the state - openings that are sorely needed. The report concludes that the number of job seekers far outstrips the number of living wage job openings available.
According to the study, every single adult must compete with six others for a sole living wage position. For adults with children, the prospects of finding living wage employment are even bleaker. There is only one job opening for every 24 job-seeking parents raising two children on his or her own.
While new jobs may be opening up, the vast majority of these do not meet basic needs. Of all job openings in Oregon, only 20 percent pay a living wage for a family of three - leaving 80 percent of new jobs providing wages that are inadequate to meet this family's basic needs. "This comes as disturbing news for working families who keep hoping for an economic recovery," said Chris Lachner a spokesperson for Oregon Action.
The report finds that a single person in Oregon must earn $10.17 an hour, or $21,156 a year, to meet his or her basic needs. A single parent with two children must earn $21.44 an hour, or $44,586 a year. This living wage includes necessities such as food, housing and utilities, transportation, health care and child care. It also includes money for savings which families need for emergencies and to plan ahead.
This wage differs from the federal poverty level and the federal minimum wage. The report concludes that the Oregon minimum wage is insufficient to meet the needs of any Oregon household, including that of a single adult. In Oregon, the minimum wage, $7.05 [now $7.25] is above the federal minimum wage.
Given the lack of living wage job openings, according to the study, each day families are foregoing their basic needs. Many are forced to make difficult choices between adequate health care, balanced meals, and paying the bills.
"Working families should be able to count on food, housing and health care," says Chris Lachner. "These are basic necessities that everyone should have. If our lawmakers aren't making sure that the jobs in our state meet our basic needs, it's up them to find another way to meet them."