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Low-Wage Work in Buffalo-Niagara

Date: Nov 20, 2018
Author(s): Sam Magavern, John Sullivan Baker
Topic(s): Economic Development: General, Poverty / Income Inequality: Low-Wage Work
Type: Policy Brief

This policy brief presents data on Buffalo-Niagara workers with a median wage of less than $15 per hour. It includes a list of all the occupations that fall into that low-wage category, along with the number of workers in each occupation and the hourly wage. Setting the data in the context of de-unionization and the shift from manufacturing to service jobs, it analyzes the loss in job quality and offers recommendations for reversing it. The brief was researched by Cornell University High Road Fellow John Sullivan Baker and written by PPG executive director Sam Magavern for the Open Buffalo Innovation Lab.

One-third of the Buffalo-Niagara workforce works in an occupation with a median wage of less than $15 per hour. Common low-wage occupations include food servers, retail salespeople, cashiers, personal care aides, receptionists, janitors, teacher assistants, nursing assistants, home health aides, and security guards. Buffalo-Niagara continues to lose middle-income jobs in sectors such as manufacturing, while gaining low-wage service sector jobs. Improving the wages, benefits, and quality of these jobs is essential to the health and equity of our region.