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Living wage job gap is a sign course change is needed for U.S. economy

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By LeAnn Hall

In August, fast food workers walked off the job in 50 U.S. cities, demanding a raise to $15 an hour.
The strikes touched off a national debate about raising wage floors.
But this debate has been missing some critical context: a data-driven analysis of what it actually takes to make ends meet in America today and how the $15 threshold and other proposals stack up.
People who are working full-time should earn enough to be able to make ends meet. This is a basic American value.
But it turns out $15 an hour falls short — for most family structures, far short. Furthermore, our current economic path isn’t creating nearly enough jobs that pay above even this basic threshold.
These are some of the findings of a new economic study, released Dec. 3 by the Alliance for a Just Society, providing the data-driven analysis needed to put the wage debate in context.
The study, America’s Changing Economy: Searching for Work that Pays in the New Low-Wage Job Market — 2013 Job Gap Study, calculates what it costs to make ends meet by analyzing state-level data on the components of a basic, no-frills household budget – including food, housing, utilities, child care, health care, and transportation.


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