The Importance of a Living Wage

February 18, 2021

Currently, there is a lot of talk in the nation about the need to increase the minimum wage in order get more people to a living wage. Consider the statistic that 40% of students who graduate from Rochester Public Schools work in Southeast MinnesotaAnd of those graduates approximately 55% earn a living wageThat’s right just over half. 

According to the Investopedia article Living Wage by Julia Kagan “A living wage refers to a theoretical income level that allows an individual or family to afford adequate shelter, food, and other basic necessities. The goal of a living wage is to allow employees to earn enough income for a satisfactory standard of living and to prevent them from falling into poverty.”  

A living wage is not a static dollar amount. The cost of living in a particular area affects the income necessary to live in that area. For example, an area with a high cost of living demands a higher living wage for people to survive and thrive. Also, the size of the family affects the amount necessary to have a living wage because with more children (members of the household) there are more expenses, such as food, clothes, and other essential items.     

Why does a living wage matter? 

It is a fundamental finding that when people are paid sufficiently well for their workthey are likely to contribute in meaningful ways to their family and the community. A young adult who is employed with an adequate salary (living wage) has the following characteristics:    

  • They are more likely to maintain a stable household 
  • They are less likely to utilize public assistance or engage in criminal activities 

Studies show that economies with more employed youth enjoy greater stability. At the same time, workplaces where young employees earn a living wage are more likely have a stable and dedicated workforce.  

What is being done to help?  

Our network members are helping students get ready for the next step after high school. Graduates rely on our members help whether preparing for college, technical training, or direct entry into the workforce. At Cradle 2 Career, we are acquiring a better understanding of local workplace needs both for now and the future. We are also aligning network support to help students prepare to meet those needs and opportunities. 

Actions you can take  

Employers can look for ways to increase their employee’s salaries, making the company more attractive to job seekers. Also, employers should consider ways to create employment pipelines, internship opportunities, and provide job shadowing experiences for youth. All of these actions help students understand the opportunities available to them in the local area. By keeping our youth here, we are strengthening the local economy and generating high-quality local employment opportunities in our community.   

To learn more about a living wage read the article Living Wage by Julia Kagan at web address: 

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