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FAQs & Figures

The Big Picture: How Not Paying a Livable Wage Impacts ALL of Us:


1.
How does not earning livable wages affect Vermonters?
2. Taxpayers Are Subsidizing Businesses That Don't Pay Livable Wages.
3. If not now, when?

How does not earning livable wages affect Vermonters?
Many working Vermonters have no choice but to do without some of the basics, including health care. Others rely on public assistance such as food stamps or fuel assistance even though many work full-time jobs. Some live in substandard housing or pay a high percentage of their income for housing. Many take second jobs (7.3 million nationally) or receive help from family members for such things as child care.

As a result of insufficient income, the standard of living for many working Vermonters is one of insecurity, dependence, and in some cases deprivation.

  • 61,000 People, Including 15,000 Children Fall Below the Official Federal Poverty Rate in Vermont: One out of every six children under the age of 18 were in poverty in Orleans, Essex, and Caledonia County (Phase 8- Vermont Job Gap Study).
     
  • 13% of Vermont Children Live in Poverty: According to the Vermont Commission on Childhood Poverty, 13% of Vermont's children are living in poverty, or 19,000 of 146, 000 children. Each month 8,000 children receive food from food shelves and 3,000 eat at soup kitchens. Children also make up 40% of the population staying at homeless shelters across the state. (Times-Argus & Free Press 1/13/99) This has helped create a situation in which, according to the food-bank organization, Second Harvest, 40% of households seeking emergency food aid in 1997 had at least one member who was working. Low-paying jobs were the most frequently cited cause of hunger.
     
  • Human Costs of Poverty on Children: Poor children are 1.3 more times likely to suffer infant death, 3 times more likely to suffer childhood death, 1.2-2.2 times more likely to have low birth weight, 2-3 times more likely to have stunted growth, 2-3 times more likely to have fatal accidental injuries, 2 times more likely to have severe asthma, two times more likely to drop out of high school, and five times more likely to be abused (Wasting America's Future, Children's Defense Fund, 1994)
     
  • 43 Million Americans (Including Over 60,000 Vermonters) Have No Health Insurance, Especially Women: Most of the uninsured are working Americans who don't get offered insurance by their employers and aren't eligible for government programs. Working-age women who are separated, divorced, never married, or widowed are most likely to have no health insurance and not received needed health care, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund. The most significant factor is income: the dividing line for those without health coverage is $35,000.
     
  • Americans Working 3 Weeks More A Year Than in 1989: According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average worker is working 123.5 hours more in 1998 than in 1989, or more than 3 weeks a year. When we don't make a livable wage we have to work more hours, or take a second (or third) job. This cuts down on the time that we have to spend with our families and get involved in our communities. (Times-Argus, 10/4/98)
     
  • Credit Card Debt and Personal Bankruptcies Are Growing: National data reveals that 45% of households with income between $20,000 to $39,999 had credit card debt in 2001.

Taxpayers Are Subsidizing Businesses That Don't Pay Livable Wages:
When businesses protest increases in the minimum wage because they want a 'free market', they are ignoring the fact that low-wage employers are already heavily subsidized by our tax dollars. When an employer doesn't pay livable wages, the workers often become eligible for programs like the Vermont Health Access Program, Dr. Dynasaur, heating fuel assistance, and food stamps that allow them to get the basic necessities. All these programs are paid for with our tax dollars, and amount to subsidies for low-wage employers.

If not now, when?
Sometimes people make the argument that this is not the best time to guarantee all Vermonters a livable wage. However, our economy has been undergoing an expansion for the past few years. It is one of the longest periods of strong economic growth since 1945. Job growth is continuing and inflation is low. If not now, when? There isn't ever going to be a better time to increase the minimum wage.

 

 

 

 


FAQs & Figures

Basic Livable Wage

Minimum Wage

Economy and "Impact"

Issues of Fairness

The Big Picture


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