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To make ends meet, American families must earn $35.80 per hour. This is a very low salary.

Millions of Americans are at risk of losing their financial security due to stagnant wages, rising cost and frequent economic crises.

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To make ends meet, American families must earn $35.80 per hour. This is a very low salary.

A family of two adults and one child needs to make ends meet. This is according to an new study of the 2022 County Health Rankings.

Keith Gennuso (lead author of the study) said that only two of the more than 3100 US counties offer living wages to the average worker. Living wages cover the cost of food, housing and child care. However, they don't include retirement savings, higher education costs or emergency savings that could help families ensure long-term financial security.

A $35.80 hourly wage equals approximately $74,400 annually. According to the most recent government data, the average hourly wage was $31.73, or $66,000 annually. Marjory Givens, codirector of the County Health Rankings program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, stated that this means many families are struggling to afford basic necessities.

Givens stated that this is a clear indicator that economic security is not within reach of many. It is a call for action.

According to the analysis, Los Alamos County, New Mexico, and Williamson County, Tennessee are the two counties in which incomes exceed or meet the baseline living wage. The analysis used 2021 data from MIT's Living Wage Calculator, a tool developed by Amy Glasmeier, MIT professor. Givens stated that these two counties are "relatively high-income and have lower costs of living and better health outcomes."

Los Alamos County is home to Los Alamos National Laboratory. It has a median household income greater than $111,000. The median household income in Tennessee's Williamson County is about $118,000.

The national living wage doesn't vary widely. Some areas, such as Los Angeles and New York City, have significantly higher basic costs than others. According to the study, the minimum living wage is $29.81 per hour. This is enough for basic necessities in Holmes County in Mississippi and $65.45 per hour in San Francisco.

Wage gains are affected by inflation

Wage gains are occurring in a labor shortage. However, these increases are being swallowed up by inflation which far exceeds the average pay increase. This is putting workers in greater financial stress, as they try to recover their footing during the ongoing pandemic.

Givens pointed out that the County Health Rankings used data starting in 2021 but didn't reflect the rise in inflation towards the end of 2021 or into 2022.

Families continue to suffer financial hardship from long-term structural problems like racism and sexism. The report identifies the gender pay gap in the report as a threat to both the economic and family well-being. The study revealed that women earn an average of 81 cents per $1 for men. This gap is even greater in the South and Plains States in the West.

Many women working in the workforce were facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic. The female labor force participation rate fell to its lowest level in 30 years. Some cases were due to mothers with children having to leave work because of a shortage of childcare and other difficulties.

Givens stated that "we already knew that women face discriminatory workplace practices" and that our systems didn't support them from fully participating in the workforce. These are the systems and structures that we must attend to.

Childcare unaffordable in every county

The cost of childcare for two children in a household is considered affordable if it is less than 7% of the household's income. However, no U.S. state has this threshold. This is a significant barrier for both child care providers and families, as their low median income makes it almost impossible to pay for outside care.

Gennuso stated that it is likely that a child-care provider with two children couldn't afford their own services -- it would take up half of their income.

The study also found that many public schools in the country are not adequately funded, which is a problem for older children. Half of U.S. counties have a deficit in public school funding. This means that students are paying an average $3,000 more per year. The largest deficits are found in the South.

Gennuso stated that a well-funded school could put a child on the path to success and a healthy future. "Schools require the resources to provide quality education. We know this is not the case across the U.S.

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