From state budget fights to outdated eligibility limits for assistance programs, this list breaks down the barriers to the social safety net.
We set out to hear the realities and perceptions of people working in low-wage industries in the Pittsburgh region. Here’s what we learned.
Aging workers make up a small portion of the national workforce, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers 65 and older are projected to be the fastest growing group from 2016 to 2026.
The full-time, annual salary of a worker making $7.25 an hour is $14,500, about $1,700 above the poverty line for a single-person household and about $2,700 below the poverty line for a family of two. Because of racial and gender pay gaps, a $15 minimum wage increase would most benefit women and people of color.
While both high-income and low-income people are moving around far less than usual, cellphone tracking data from the marketing intelligence company Cuebiq shows that during the pandemic, people in the lowest-income areas are traveling about seven times more than people in the highest-income areas in the Pittsburgh region.
The Pittsburgh region’s labor market shrunk to levels not seen since the early 1990s. And its rebound has been slower than the national average and other similar metro areas. While jobs continued to grow over the last month, the region has a long way to go, even as the Delta variant prolongs the pandemic.
In the City of Pittsburgh, 59 municipal employees — including refuse workers, school crossing guards and administrative clerks — earn below the $15-per-hour benchmark that labor advocates have been pushing for nationally.
In Allegheny County, 169 full-time government workers still need wage increases to hit that benchmark. They include food-service workers and housekeepers at Kane Community Living Centers, among others.
A Bayer Center report that spans 185 nonprofit organizations in the Pittsburgh region also suggests a racial disparity in who benefits, a lack of overall diversity and a contingent of employees who make low enough wages to qualify for public assistance.