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A Good Job is Hard to Find

Posted by Lori Pfingst at Nov 26, 2012 02:15 PM |

Part II in a series from our recent brief, In Pursuit of Prosperity: Eight Strategies to Rebuild Washington's Economy. In decades past, an abundance of good jobs created a thriving middle class in Washington state.  In today’s economy, however, a good job is hard to find.

Most of the jobs available in Washington state do not pay what’s needed for workers and their families to get ahead. Fifteen of the 20 occupations with the most job openings pay below what a family of four (two adults, two kids) needs just to meet basic needs, like having enough food, adequate housing, and affordable child care and health care. Eighteen out of 20 pay less than what a single parent with two children needs (see figure).

prosperity_fig2_basicneeds_no#

Furthermore, while meeting basic needs is an important benchmark, true progress would mean that more people have enough disposable income to invest in assets – a home, saving for retirement, or a child’s education – that build long-term wealth and economic security. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen given the current state of Washington state’s job market. Conservatively assuming families need 15 percent more than just a basic needs wage to actually step onto a path of prosperity, 71 percent of jobs in 2019 will not pay enough on average ($56,762) for a family of three to get ahead on one income (see figure).

prosperity_fig3_scatter_no#

To find out what policymakers can do to build a just and prosperous future for all Washingtonians, read the full brief.

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HIGHLIGHTS

Watch the Budget Matters Plenary 

View the Budget Matters 2016 conference plenary panel, "What's at Stake in the 2017-2019 Budget: Funding McCleary and Beyond," on TVW. Moderated by Ann Dornfeld of KUOW with a budget overview by our own Andy Nicholas, the panel features Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, the 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year; Lew Moore of the Washington Research Council; Roxana Norouzi of OneAmerica; and Sen. Christine Rolfes. The plenary starts after a brief intro by Executive Director Misha Werschkul and an intro video by Gov. Inslee.

Our Legislative Agenda

Our agenda for the 2015-2017 biennium calls for an equitable, sustainable revenue system in addition to state investments that: promote a world-class education system; sustain a strong middle class; produce living-wage jobs, and ensure that all Washingtonians have equal opportunity to get ahead. 

Testimonies in Olympia

We testified in support of a number of important bills during the 2016 legislative session. Take a look:

  • Our testimony (at the 23:23 minute mark) on the House Bill that would take a two-generation approach to preventing poverty 
  • Our testimony (at the 1:54:09 mark) on the House bill focused on aerospace-related tax breaks
  • Our House testimony (at the 9:25 mark) and Senate testimony (at the 1:44:54 mark) on the two-generation approach to poverty prevention bill 

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