Who Are These Low-Wage Workers?

The President says they need a raise. And the Governor says the same.

So, who are these low wage workers and why are the campaigns on their behalf taking off now?

Here’s one explanation about these workers:

“The typical worker who would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2015 looks nothing like the part-time, teen stereotype: She is in her early thirties, works full-time, and may have a family to support. Our analysis of workers who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage shows:

▪                The average age of affected workers is 35 years old;

▪                88 percent of all affected workers are at least 20 years old;

▪                35.5 percent are at least 40 years old;

▪                56 percent are women;

▪                28 percent have children;

▪                55 percent work full-time (35 hours per week or more);

▪                44 percent have at least some college experience.”

source: Economic Policy Institute

What about the numbers here?

Here in Illinois, 733,000 workers would be directly effected by a minimum wage hike, and another  394,000 would be indirectly effected, according to the Economic Policy Institute. More than two out of three of these workers also have a high school degree, EPI figures show.

With so many drives in Chicago, Illinois and across the US for a boost in the wages and conditions of low-wage workers, we need to know the context and these numbers help to do that.

But we need to need more.

We need to hear from the people involved, and from those behind the campaigns.

We need to understand what are the forces driving these efforts to boost the wages and working conditions for maids, taxicab driver, fast food workers, warehouse workers, restaurant workers, and a heap of others?

We’ll talk about this at our news forum on low wage workers at 6 pm Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 618 S. Michigan Ave., Stage Two, Columbia College.

A group of workers and leaders of these campaigns will tell us about their efforts.

And then we’ll meet folks from a dozen and half organizations, and community groups. They will be sitting at tables spread around this large meeting space at Columbia. There, journalists, community activists, and others will learn directly about what is happening and why.

WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore will be our moderator

In addition, folks from the Heartland Alliance’s Social Impact Research Center will be available to explain the latest figures on poverty and low wage workers in Illinois.

If you want to understand what’s happening, here’s your chance.

talk to me – diga me

from Progress Illinois

from Progress Illinois


Steve Franklin

office 312 369 6400





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