New data show wages up for many, but four of Ohio’s 10 most common jobs pay near poverty
Posted April 28, 2022 in Press Releases
Today Policy Matters Ohio released analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) Survey. The analysis shows that although employers have increased pay for many of Ohio’s most common jobs, too many jobs held by hundreds of thousands of Ohioans pay near poverty level wages. The report includes a statewide fact sheet and fact sheets for each of Ohio’s 11 metropolitan statistical areas.
“All working people — no matter their race, gender, or the kind of job they do — deserve to be paid enough to live a good life and provide for their families,” said Policy Matters Researcher Michael Shields. “Pressures from the pandemic and intervention from the federal government pushed employers to increase pay. However, considering that corporations suppressed wages for two decades before COVID, the increases are modest at best. Now as a whole, working Ohioans are paid on par with the inadequate wages of the early 2000s. Since then, most working people haven’t shared in the exploding wealth their work helped create.”
The data show that among Ohio’s 10 most common jobs, four don’t pay enough for a typical worker to feed a family of three. These occupations are fast food workers, retail salespersons, cashiers and home health and personal care aides. They represent 452,900 workers. All four of these occupations pay less than the 1968 peak value of the minimum wage, worth more than $13 per hour in today’s dollars.
The COVID pandemic had huge implications for Ohio’s working people. As of March 2022, Ohio had 146,100 fewer jobs than before COVID. Layoffs were more likely in occupations that are low-paid and disproportionately held by Black and brown people and women. The pandemic caused layoffs in many industries and hiring in a few. For example, Ohioans avoided eating out, so fast food and other restaurants were hit hard. With more people shopping online, hiring for stockers and order fillers, and customer service representatives went up. Numbers also increased for registered nurses and home health aides.
“Even with rising prices, every Ohioan should be able to make ends meet — but inflation could zero-out wage gains before normalizing again,” Shields said. “The problem is deliberate policy choices have allowed corporations to profit from raising prices without paying working people the true value of their work. Ohio was once a stronghold for industrial unionism, where everyday people were paid among the highest wages in the nation. We can reclaim that mantle with policies that raise wages, protect workers’ right to join in union and make the wealthy and corporations pay what they truly owe.”