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FAQs & Figures

Basic Livable Wage Questions

1. What is a livable wage?
2. How much is a livable wage?

3. Who uses the livable wage figures? Does anyone?

4. How many Vermonters don't earn a livable wage?
5.
Do women in Vermont make less than men?
6.
I heard on the national level people of color make less than whites. Is that true in Vermont?

7. How do people not earning a livable wage get by?


What is a livable wage?

A livable wage is the hourly wage or annual income sufficient to meet a family's basic needs plus all applicable Federal and State taxes. Basic needs include food, housing, child care, transportation, health care, clothing, household and personal expenses, insurance, and 5% savings.

 

How much is a livable wage?
Because a livable wage is based on family size, these is no one livable wage number. Since 2001, the State of Vermont Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) has estimated the cost of basic needs and the equivalent livable wage, based on methodology first developed in Phase 1 of the VT Job Gap Study and expanded by a 1999 Special Legislative Committee.  As part of Act 59 √∂ passed during the 2005 VT Legislative Session JFO updates these calculations every odd numbered year on or before January 15th.  The report  will be updated during the interim year to reflect any significant economic, policy or statutory changes that impact the information within the report. Read the current JFO report.

The Vermont Livable Wage Campaign uses the average between the urban and rural figures.

2009 Livable Wage: Basic Needs + Taxes
(all figures per wage with employer-assisted health insurance)
Family Unit
Rural
Urban
Average
 Hourly   Annual
 wage   wage
 Hourly   Annual
 wage   wage
 Hourly   Annual
 wage   wage
Two adults, no children  $13.04   $54,246
 each     HH income*
 $13.10   $54,496
 each    HH income*

 $13.07    $54,371

 each      HH income*

Single person, no children  $16.41    $34,132  $17.08   $35,526  $16.75    $34,840
Single parent, one child  $23.04    $47,923  $25.04    $52,083  $24.04   $50,003
Single parent, two children  $28.58    $59,446  $31.37    $65,250  $29.98   $62,358

Two parents, one wage earner,

two children (assumes no childcare)

 $30.11    $62,629  $31.23    $64,958  $30.67   $63,794

Two parents, two wage earners,

 two children

 $18.75   $78,000

 each       HH income*

 $20.07    $83,491

 each    HH income*

 $19.41   $80,746

 each      HH income*

 

*HH = Household

 

2009 LW Source: Basic Needs Report 2009, Vermont Joint Fiscal Office, January 2009 Study.  http://www.leg.state.vt.us/jfo/Reports%20by%20Subject.htm

 

Note: The JFO assumes the employer pays 84% if health insurance premium for single persons and 73% for families premium costs. Without health insurance, workers must pay these costs out of pocket and the livable wage increases by $2 to 6/ hour.

Who uses the livable wage figures? Does anyone?
Many Vermont businesses, employers, non-profits, public service organizations and local governments use the livable wage calculations every year. Data collected by the JFO sets a standard wage for employers and the state to help businesses set fair and adequate compensation levels. The livable wage data also provides a guideline for non-profits and public service organizations when conducting community needs assessments. Many more organizations use the livable wage figures to set various policies including scholarship qualifying criteria for students and Vermont families. Moreover, the State of Vermont is leading the country in providing a needed alternative economic indicator which reflects Vermonters basic needs compared to the antiquated federal poverty measure√∑an unrealistically low indicator of poverty.

How many Vermonters don't earn a livable wage?
According to information from the Vermont Department of Employment and Training, 45% of jobs in Vermont have a median wage that pays less than $11.58/hr ($24,086/yr.), the livable wage for a single person in 2003.  [Note: This figure does not include tipped employees such as waitresses/waiters and bartenders.]

The Peace & Justice Center recently released Phase 8 of the Vermont Job Gap Study. The Study revealed that one out of four full-time workers (26%) earned less than a livable wage for a single person ($24,086/yr) in 2003. Moreover, 29% of single people, 72% of single parents with one child, 82% of single parents with two children, 55% of families of four with one wage earner and 35% of families of four with two wage earners do NOT make a livable wage based on their family size here in Vermont. See above for the six different livable wage figures based on family sizes as calculated by the Joint Fiscal Office.

Also, the reality for women and people of color is even more stark. Thirty-five percent of women compared to nineteen percent of men did not earn a livable wage in Vermont. For people of color there is a similar disparity. Thirty-six percent of people of color compared to twenty-four percent of whites did not earn a livable wage for single person.

Do women in Vermont make less than men?
In terms of poverty, almost one-third (31%) of all families headed by a single woman with children under 18 are in poverty (The Vermont Job Gap Study- Phase 8). More than one-third of ALL women who worked full time in 1999 did not earn a livable wage for a single person. Thirty-five percent of women compared to nineteen percent of men did not earn a livable wage in Vermont.

I heard on the national level people of color make less than whites. Is that true in Vermont?
According to phase 8 of the Vermont Job Gap Study, the unemployment rate for non-whites was more than twice that of whites. More than one out of five Blacks and North American Natives were in poverty in 1999 (phase 8). Thirty-six percent of people of color compared to twenty-four percent of whites did not earn a livable wage for single person. White median household income was 51% higher than that of Native Peoples in 1999 and 30% higher than Black households.


How do people not earning a livable wage get by?

Many people don't make up the difference and do without basic necessities. (For example, over 60,000 Vermonters have no health care.) Others rely on public assistance programs like food stamps, the Low Income Heat Assistance Program, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), and Medicaid. Some of us live in substandard housing, or pay a large percentage of our income for housing. People receive help from family members, work two jobs, barter, or work under the table. More and more people depend on credit, which then means that meeting payments becomes more and more difficult. The total effect of this picture is that many Vermonters lack basic economic security, depend on state and federal public assistance programs and face a declining standard of living.

 

 

 


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