How does the Living Wage affect the economic sustainability of our community?

TEAM 5 – Living Wage Research

Key Questions:

  1. Outside of living wages, what are other fundamental aspects of sustainable economies?
  2. How do those elements work in conjunction with or in opposition to living wages as economics seek to grow?

Summary of Research Findings:

Living Wage is a “feel good” program with minimal impact overall. It is narrowly focused and raises the question “if you raise wages do you lose jobs?” Living wage targets the economic confidence of the individual and while individual economic confidence is a by product of local economic development, it is not necessarily the goal. A stronger, more robust local economy typically yields stronger individual confidence.

Fundamental aspects of a sustainable local economy include a higher percentage of local ownership of business with a stronger “buy local” culture.  Significant emphasis on local investment/reinvestment would be needed, better access to local capital and involvement of surrounding universities for development of applied sciences and research could assist with this.

Currently there is a lack of infrastructure to support a successful local economy because most struggling families and individuals are financially unable to pay for things like housing, transportation, healthcare, or childcare. Adopting a living wage as it is currently defined does not change the challenges faced by middle and lower class residents when it comes to managing the costs incurred by these basic things. Living Wage is a first step, but it is not the answer to the problem.