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Tourism Accounts for 23% of Vermont's Jobs, according to a study by UVM researchers. These jobs are usually low-wage, and often without benefits, and part-time. (Times-Argus, 5/13/99)

Vermont: High Costs, Low Wages:
While per capita wages in Vermont are 9% below the national average, the cost of living is 15% above the national average.

Vermonters Support Livable Wages:
According to a 1999 Town Meeting survey conducted by the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, 18 of the 19 towns surveyed listed livable wages as the top economic priority. In the other town, Calais, it was number 2. Regionally livable wage was the top priority, followed by safe working conditions, positive effect on natural resources, family-friendly employers, wages commensurate with skills, career options, job security, training for advancement, agriculture opportunities, skilled work force, and value-added products. Surveyed towns and cities included Barre City, Berlin, Cabot, Calais, Duxbury, E. Montpelier, Fayston, Marshfield, Middlesex, Montpelier, Moretown, Northfield, Orange, Plainfield, Roxbury, Waitsfield, Warren, Washington. Waterbury, Williamstown, Woodbury, and Worcester.

Vermont Has Fourth Most Expensive Rents in the U.S.
According to a survey by the National Low Income Housing Coalition called "Out of Reach: The Gap Between Housing Costs and Income of Poor People", 50% of Vermont renters are unable to afford Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment. (Fair market rent is the standard that no more than 30% of a household's income be spent on rent.) The Housing Wage in Vermont is $11.67. This the amount a workers would have to earn per hour in order to be able to work 40 hours per week and afford a two-bedroom unit at the area's fair market rent. This is 227% of the federal minimum wage ($ 5.15 per hour.)

Fastest Growing Jobs in Vermont.
The service sector of retail and tourism jobs continues to grow in importance. According to the Vermont Department of Employment and Training, the three fastest growing occupational titles from 1994 to 2005 will be:

    1. waiters and waitresses,
    2. retail sales, and
    3. cashiers.

These are jobs that are often low paying (median wage of $5.60 an hour) part-time, and without benefits. Other fast growing jobs in order of projected job openings, 1994-2005: Sales supervisors, general managers, secretaries, light truck drivers, carpenter, janitors, heavy truck drivers, restaurant cooks, registered nurses, and secondary school teachers.

Vermont Low Wage Jobs by Sector.
These four sectors represent 50% of all Vermont low-wage jobs:
1. Retail (sales)
2. Food & Beverage (service)
3. Education (prof/paraprof, service, clerical)
4. Health care (service). (From Vermont Job Gap Study)

Vermont Businesses are Small, and That's Where Growth is Happening.
According to the Department of Employment of Training, 60% of Vermont businesses have four employees or less. 79% of Vermont businesses have 9 or less employees. Most job growth is also happening in small businesses. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, between 1991 and 1995, nationally, firms with fewer than five employees created 3.8 million new jobs, while firms with more than 500 employees eliminated 3.2 million jobs.

Vermont's Basic Economic Structural Problem:
The jobs that we have and will have in Vermont are increasingly going to be service sector jobs in small businesses. If the jobs we are going to have in Vermont are service sector jobs in small businesses, we need to have a floor on how low wages can be. That floor is set by the minimum wage, and it is the only way many of these jobs can be brought up to a livable wage level. These are jobs where job training and skills building are not the main concern, and majority of these jobs will continue to be there and people will continue to fill them, even with ongoing economic development and job training efforts simply because so many of these jobs are being created.


Feel Like You Are Working More?

Americans Work More Than Other Countries--Nearly 9 Weeks: Americans put in the longest hours among workers in industrialized countries. Americans work an average of 1,966 hours in 1997 (most recent year for which figures are available), with Japan at 1,889 (in 1995). This means Americans work nearly two weeks more a year than the Japanese, who are often thought to be the world's hardest workers, and nearly nine more weeks a year (350 hours) than the average for Europeans . (New York Times, 9/7/99)

Americans Working More Than in 1989: In 1996, the typical married couple family worked 247 more hours (over six weeks) than in 1989. (Economic Policy Institute)

Gap Between Rich and Poor, Workers and Bosses

Gap Between Rich and Poor Growing: The richest 1% of Americans, 2.7 million people, have as much after-tax income ($620 billion) as the poorest 100 million people. That ratio has more than doubled since 1977. This is directly traceable to tax cuts since 1977, when the top income tax bracket was 50 percent, compared to the current 39.6%. (From Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, New York Times, 9/5/99.)

Pay Gap Between Workers and Bosses Exploding: The average annual compensation of a CEO of a large company in 1998 was $10.6 million, 419 times what the average worker makes, according to the organization United for a Fair Economy. That ratio has risen from 49 times to 1 in 1980. Had workers' pay risen at the same rate, the average worker would earn $110,000 today, not the $29,000 that an average worker makes. (Washington Post, 8/30/99)

Minimum Wage for CEO's? Had the minimum wage increased at the same rate as CEO pay, it would be $22.08 today, according to the Institute for Policy Studies. (Washington Post, 8/30/99)

Global Inequality: The world's richest countries have 20% of the world's population, but 86 % of its' income, according to a study by the UN Development Program. The poorest 20% of the world's population has 1% of the income. The three richest officers of Microsoft-Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Steve Ballmer-have more assets, nearly $140 billion, than the combined income of the 43 least developed countries and their 600 million people. (Chicago Tribune, 7/12/99)

200 Richest Get Richer: The world's 200 richest people have doubled their wealth in the past four years, and the assets of the three richest families now exceed the combined gross national products of all the least developed countries, according the United Nations Human Development Report. More than 1.3 billion people in the developing world make a living of less than $1 a day. (Washington Post, 7/13/99)

The Very Rich on Our "Booming Economy": Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, one of the most prestigious investment banks: "I am hard-pressed to believe that this is a period when we've got a rising tide that has lifted all boats. There are millions of workers who have never seen the harbor let alone know what a boat looks like." (New York Times, 4/19/98)

Economic Inequality-National. 1979 until now: 60% of population saw income decrease in inflation adjusted dollars. Next 20% saw modest increases. The top 20 % saw income increase. Top 1% saw income increase 110%. 1976: Wealthiest 1% of Americans owned 19% of all private material wealth. Today they own 40% of all wealth, more than 92% of the U.S. population combined. Taxes on wealthy were cut from a top rate of 68% in 1980s to 28% by 1988. The share of federal tax revenues paid by corporations dropped from 33 cents of every dollar in 1953 to less than 10 cents today. (From United for a Fair Economy)

Corporate Power (from the Institute for Policy Studies) Of the largest 100 economies in the world, 51 are now corporations, 49 are countries. The top 200 corporations have twice as much wealth than 80% of the world's population. Yet, they only employ 18.8 million people, 1/3 of 1/100 of 1% of the world population.

Poverty Getting Worse

Poor Getting Poorer. The poorest 20% of Americans will average $8,800 of income in 1999, down from $10,000 in 1977, even in the middle of the U.S. longest post-World War II economic expansion. (Center On Budget & Policy Priorities, New York Times, 9/5/99)

For 20% of Americans, Essential Bills Hard to Pay: Eight million Americans in families earning more than $45,000 a year say they've had trouble paying rent, medical bills, or other basic daily needs, according to a Census report. Overall, about 49 million Americans said there was a least one time in 1995 when they had trouble paying a basic bill such as mortgage, rent, utilities, food, or medical care. Overall, at least 20% of American had problems paying basic bills. Economists noted that this demonstrates that Americans are living very close to the financial edge, even in middle-class families. (Free Press, 7/9/99)

More Low Wage Workers Being Let Go: The number of job-seekers making less than $30,000 is rising to the highest level in four years and reflects that more companies have a willingness to fire low-wage workers, according to a survey conducted by consultants Challenger, Gray, & Christmas. (Burlington Free Press, July 26, 1999)

Welfare Reform Hurting Single Mothers: According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the income of the poorest 20 percent of single-mother families fell 8% despite a fast growing despite a fast-growing economy largely due to the 1996 Welfare Reform Act and the loss of benefits it caused. (New York Times, July 99)

Childhood Poverty

30% of American Children Live in Families That Have Trouble Meeting Basic Needs (Burlington Free Press, 7/9/99)

Young Families Lose Income: Median income for parents under age 30 dropped 33 percent between 1973 and 1994, according to the Children's Defense Fund. As a result, the poverty rate for children in young families has doubled since 1973, with 41% of children living below the poverty line in 1994. (Times-Argus, 9/16/97)

U.S. Extreme Child Poverty Rises By More Than 400,000 in One Year: According to the Children's Defense Fund, the number of American children living in families with incomes below one-half of the official poverty line rose to 2.7 million in 1997, up by 426,000 from the year before. (Press Release, CDF, 8/23/99)

20% Of Children Nationally Live in Poverty: According to the Economic Policy Institute, 20.5% of children were living in poverty. (EPI, The State of Working America, 1998-99.)

25% Of Children Under Six Live in Poverty. 5.2 million young children, nearly one out of every four children under six years old, are growing up in families living in poverty according to the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University, in a study released June 14, 1999.

Minimum Wage:

Increasing the Minimum Wage $1 Would Benefit 11.8 Million Workers, Especially Women: Increasing the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 would benefit 11.8 million workers, along with millions more who earn just above minimum wage and who would likely see their wages go up. Working women would especially benefit: An AFL-CIO study found that 30% of working women may get pay increases when the minimum wage goes up, reflecting the fact that women are concentrated in the lowest-paying jobs. (Washington Post 7/2/99)

How Many People Earn Minimum Wage Nationally? The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that in 1998, 4.4 million hourly workers earned at or below the minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, 6.2% of all U.S. hourly workers. Half of these workers are above 25 years of age, and 1/3 are 19 or younger. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8/10/99)

Minimum Wage Should be $8.51 According to the U.S. Dept of Labor, if the minimum wage had just kept up with inflation after its' high of $1.60/hour in 1968, it would be worth $8.51/hour as of 2004.


Americans Are Most Productive Workers: According to the International Labor Organization, American workers are the most productive in the world, leading France, Germany, Japan and Britain. (New York Times, 9/7/99)

Workplace Safety: Under the Clinton Administration, Federal inspections of workplaces for safety violations are at their lowest rate since the Occupational Safety and Health act was adopted in 1971. (New York Times, 9/6/99)

Youth Have Little Hope in Future: 55% of American workers 18 to 34 years old see their economic future as mostly being made up of low-paying jobs that offer no benefits. Only 45% of young workers polled say they are covered by employer-provided heath coverage. (From High Hopes, Little Trust: A Study of Young Workers and Their Ups and Downs in the New Economy, by Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the AFL-CIO.)

Corporate Welfare : Over 250 billion dollars is given out annually as subsidies to US corporations. For example, US arms merchants get 500 million a year to advertise and promote their products in the Third World.

Temps- Roughly 30% of the U.S. workforce is contingent-temporary, contract, and day labor. 3 million temps work in the US, up from 500, 000 in 1983. 50 percent of temps are 20 to 34 years old, and 30 % have an associate or college degree.