Time again to draw attention to one of the Northwest’s (not that we’re alone) most powerful indicators, found in the annual job gap study by the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations. And it has quite a bit to say about family values.
In the report, the group does two things. First, it works out in four Northwest states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho plus Montana) what a “living wage” is, bearing in mind the number of people to be supported by it – a single adult, a single adult or couple with a child, or with children. Then it determines how many jobs – and especially, how many jobs of those coming open – will support people at or above that level.
The group’s reports in recent years have not been encouraging, and neither is this one.
The report covers the year 2005, which is the last for which all the data streams are available.
How hopeful or bleak the picture is depends in great part on whether you’re supporting one or more children, or not: The income needed grows with the addition of children. Here is how pay per hour looks by state by state:
|Single adult, 1 child||$17.89||$16.21||$18.48||$17.54|
|2 adults (1 working), 2 children||$20.98||$20.83||$22.34||$21.77|
|2 adults (2 working), 2 children||$29.30||$26.96||$30.38||$29.95|
Note: Pay for “two adults working” is the combination of their pay.
In the Northwest overall, 242,801 jobs opened in 2005, and there were 563,300 – a little more than twice as many people looking for work as jobs for them to fill; something like quarter million people left standing when the musical chairs ended (reduced somewhat by those working more than one job). But most of those jobs, about three-fourths, don’t pay a living wage even to a single adult with no one else to support (just 159,176 do).
If you’re a single adult, then, that means just 66% of all open jobs will pay enough to adequately support you – not great, but not awful. If you’re a single adult with a child, though, that number drops to 35%. If you’re in a household with two working adults and two children, it’s 24%. If you’re a single adult supporting yourself and two children, it’s 20%.
These job gap ratios vary somewhat around the region. The worst ratio in the region is in Oregon, where a single adult with two children will note just one job among 20 that came open in 2005, that will pay a supportable wage. Idaho’s ratio in that group is 14 to one, and Washington’s nine to one. That means, in Idaho for example, “For each job opening that pays at least the $22.23 an hour living wage for a single adult with two children, there are 14 job seekers on average.”
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