A recent analysis by the Brookings Institution profoundly calls out the need to rethink “good jobs.” The report, Meet the low-wage workforce found that despite unemployment at a low 3.5%, and mostly good news in jobs and wage growth, “53 million workers ages 18-64 – or 44% of all workers – earn barely enough to live on.”
Increasingly we are confronted with the fact that wages for minimum and low wage workers cannot support a family’s basic needs oftentimes even with full time employment and even multiple wage earners. A growing number of indices including—the United Way’s ALICE threshold, MIT’s living wage calculator, the Self-Sufficiency Standard, and EPI’s Family Budget Calculator — confirm that cost of living – even a bare-bones budget- outpaces family earnings. And that rising costs for basic family needs — housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, and taxes– continue to rise even as wages stagnate.
We know that the mechanism for change points beyond wages alone. And an asset building framework continues to hold central, as we continue to rethink our failing economic and social systems, that “good jobs” must not only provide a minimum wage but also meet a measure of financial security and stability for all workers.