Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wages and Rents, pt. 3: Low Paying Jobs

Question: how much of our city’s workforce is stuck in low-wage jobs? Answer: 35% and rising, according to a new analysis by the Center for an Urban Future. CUF took data from the US Population Reference Bureau on low-wage jobs in New York City, and looked at how their share of the total economy has changed over the last five years. In New York, the Census Bureau defines low-wage work as a job paying less than $12.89 an hour (or $26,818 per year).

Five years ago, the proportion citywide was 31%; today, it is 35%. The share rose in every borough but Queens, which remained static. (One has to wonder if all the low-wage jobs in Queens are truly accounted for.)  In the Bronx, nearly half the working population- 46.8%- have low paying jobs. In Brooklyn, it’s 40%.

If that citywide proportion of low-wage workers- 35%- sounds familiar, perhaps that’s because this is the exact same percentage of rent stabilized households paying more than a third of their income towards rents, as reported in this year’s Income & Affordability study. This is no coincidence- the city is becoming unaffordable to working people, who cannot survive on rising rents and declining wages.

We have a severe mismatch between our jobs and our housing. This problem must be attacked from both sides of the equation- with better jobs and lower rents. This year, the minimum wage rose incrementally. It’s time to take a step forward on housing costs, and end the cycle of ever-rising rents.

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