Job gap study finds hardship in Virginia

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According to an annual job gap study, Virginia and other states are struggling to offer enough jobs that pay a living wage of at least $15 an hour.

Virginia Organizing, a nonpartisan statewide organization, released the results of the 15th annual study by The Alliance for a Just Society on Wednesday via a tele-media conference. The report finds a shrinking proportion of jobs that pay enough for families to make ends meet, with the number of job seekers exceeding the number of jobs that pay a living wage.

In Virginia, there are about seven job seekers for every job that pays a living wage in a single adult household. That number increases to 16 job seekers for every living wage job available in a two-child, single parent household.

Nationally, the report found  an increasing share of low-wage jobs since the end of the Great Recession. It said the share of jobs that pay below the $15-an-hour, low-wage threshold increased from 36.5 percent in 2009 to 39.4 percent in 2012. There were 51.4 million low-wage jobs in 2012.

During the press conference in Virginia, speakers expressed concern that the state has not agreed to expand Medicaid.

“This report shows what Virginians already know — we need better wages and better social safety net programs in Virginia,” Virginia Organizing chairperson Sandra A. Cook, said in a statement.  “Medicaid expansion and an increase in the minimum wage can clearly help those working low-wage jobs have more financial security and add more to the economy through being able to afford to spend money in local communities. These things are good for all of us.”

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