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Report: Idaho Jobs Don't Pay a Living Wage
KTVB - Idaho's News Channel 7
Nishi Gupta

December 12, 2010
View the Original Article

BOISE-- Just a week after the state announced the unemployment rate jumped three-tenths of a percentage point to 9.4 percent, a new report paints a bleak picture for Idaho jobs.

The study, prepared by a group called the Alliance for a Just Society, said many Idaho jobs do not pay a decent salary.

So in this economy, not only do many Idahoans struggle to find a jobs, they struggle even more to find a well-paying job.

Single mom Sarah Heinz is thankful for what she has: three beautiful children, a home, a car and a full-time job.

But to her kids, she has had to explain that money is pretty tight.

"The kids just understand, I tell them the blessing is we can pay our bills, and we pay our rent and we're warm and we have a home, and that's the big payoff of pulling back everything," said Heinz.

And she's had to pull back even with the help of outside agencies.

Her situation, according to the 2010 Job Gap Report, is far too common in Idaho.

The study used a living wage as the benchmark. In this case, that was a wage that allowed families to meet basic needs without public assistance and plan for emergencies.

Single parents, it said, rarely get paid enough.

It suggested a living wage of $26.44 an hour for those with two children.

Authors of the Job Gap Report said single adults should make more than $14 an hour.

Heinz has a sense of humor about it.

"Twenty-six dollars an hour is almost ridiculous sounding because that's just way more than I could even fathom making. I would think $14 an hour would be pretty good," Heinz said as she laughed.

The report also says 53 percent of Idaho jobs pay less than what it takes for a single adult to make ends meet, while 75 percent of jobs don't pay enough for single parent homes.

Heinz is grateful to have a job at all. She's an administrative assistant at City Light, a shelter for women and children.

She said her situation, compared to other women who need help, is a blessing.

“There are single moms out there with four or five kids that don't know what's going to happen," she said.

Sarah Heinz does not know what will happen to her, but she's optimistic that hard work and faith will pull her family through.

The report ranked Idaho second to last among five states for a living wage.

Colorado, Oregon, Washington had higher hourly wages. Montana had the lowest.

The national unemployment rate is 9.8 percent.

To read the 2010 Job Gap Report, click here.