Report: Full-time working Virginians lack living wage

virginia-organizing-new2This week, the Virginia General Assembly money committees will meet to discuss the finances of the Commonwealth. As lawmakers make decisions about the financial health of Virginia, a new report from the Alliance for a Just Society shows Virginia’s families are struggling.

Only 26 percent of all full-time workers in Virginia earn a wage that will allow a single working parent with two children to make ends meet. More startling, only 19 percent of all women and 20 percent of all people of color working full time in Virginia earn a wage that would support two children.

“Virginia’s political leaders are making decisions for families based on what they think to be true, but they are often ignoring the needs of real families in Virginia,” said Sandra A. Cook. “Virginia needs to fully participate in and fund programs like CHIP, Medicaid expansion, and earned income tax credits to make sure that struggling families are not further burdened by their lack of resources. As our elected officials consider how to manage budget shortfalls, Virginia Organizing urges them not to do so on the backs of the hard-working Virginia families already struggling to make ends meet.”

Women of color face the most obstacles and often have to make difficult choices to provide for their families.

Fredericksburg resident Moneka Coleman knows this first-hand. Click here to read her story.

“A system that unjustly and persistently leaves people of color overrepresented in low wage work is tantamount to economic racism,” said Jill Reese, associate director for Alliance for a Just Society. “And, policies that keep women over-represented among low-wage workers is gender discrimination.”

Virginia Organizing urges elected officials to expand Medicaid and close the coverage gap, which could save Virginia $161 million in the next budget year and lessen the effect of budget shortfalls, according to The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. In addition to closing the coverage gap, Virginia Organizing believes lawmakers should also continue funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), consider increasing the minimum wage, and make the Virginia earned income tax credit (EITC) refundable.

“Equity in the Balance” is the second in the 2014 Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series. Alliance for a Just Society has produced a Job Gap Study on jobs and wages since 1999.

Data from the Alliance’s Job Gap Study has figured prominently in debates on minimum wage, paid sick days, payday lending, Medicaid and other family economic issues in many states across the country.

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