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Low Income Workers Struggling to Survive in Colorado

Posted: September 20, 2017 at 10:42 am by , in Breaking News, Featured, Morning Magazine

“The median wage earner is making less today than in the year 2000 once you adjust for inflation.”

As many as one in four workers in the state need to work over 20 hours a week just to cover housing costs, according to a recent report issued by the Colorado Fiscal Institute. Their economist, Chris Stiffler spoke with KGNU’s Robin Ryan about the impact of low income dynamics in both rural and urban settings, as well as where the median wage is as it compares to the turn of the century.

“The median wage earner is making less today than in the year 2000 once you adjust for inflation.”

Stiffler also produced a 2015 report about Medicaid that inspired the current study into wages. A lot of the growth in Medicaid being fueled by the fact that a lot of new jobs being created in Colorado in 2012-2013 were low paying jobs. We’ve had a huge growth in food service workers, a lot of home health care workers, personal care aides – a giant growth in the number of jobs but the jobs don’t pay very much.”

The latest report from the Colorado Fiscal Institute looks at the impact of the growing number of workers in the state who are categorized as low income and in large part due to the escalating costs of housing. Stiffler says that low wages impacts the wider economy, not just the circumstances of individual workers. “It’s disposable income that really drives economic activity.”

Stiffler says a low-wage job in Colorado is one that pays $12.48 or less per hour. CFI says that about 25%, 634,000 workers in Colorado fall into the low-wage category.