Living Wage Report

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Beginning in 2016, The University of Scranton and The Institute set out to understand better what constitutes a living wage in Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA). The initial 2016 Living Wage report found that the federal minimum wage of $7.25 proved inadequate to enable families in the region to reach a living wage threshold where they can meet their “essential basic needs and live a modest but dignified life.”

Living Wage Report 2022 Update

The Living Wage Study 2022, a project of The Institute and The University of Scranton, seeks to understand better what constitutes a living wage in Northeastern Pennsylvania using the MIT Living Wage calculator, other national and regional data, and connecting this data with input from community agencies and insights from Catholic Social Teaching. A living wage, and the broader concept of family economic security, is defined as the wage rate at which a worker, employed on a full-time basis, can reach a standard of living that meets essential basic needs and allows the individual or family to live a modest but dignified life. The 2022 Report outlines the living wage threshold for various family compositions in NEPA and compares it to previous data, details the increases in costs of living, explains some of the major challenges facing those who fall below the living wage threshold, and especially highlights contributing factors – in particular, racial disparities and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related policies on economic security.  

The 2022 Living Wage Report is a collaboration of The Institute and The University of Scranton (Office of Community and Government Relations, the Ellacuría Initiative and the Department of Political Science).

The 2022 Living Wage Report was released at a State of Scranton seminar on Nov. 29 from 11:30-1 pm. The 2022 updated reported can be accessed as a PDF document here that can be downloaded and shared. 

Resources for 2022 Report:

2022 Report Overview Summary
University Press Release
Videos: Living Wage Report 2022: Interviews & Perspectives
Perspectives Shared by Interviewees Mary and Donna
In The News

View the Living Wage Report 2022 Update:
Download the Full Report

Living Wage Report 2022: Interviews

Special thanks to interviewees, Caitlin, Yvonne, Ronnie and Jenny, and to collaborating organizations Agency for Community Empowerment, Outreach, and NeighborWorks NEPA.

Community Voices on Living Wage Study 2022: Caitlin


Community Voices on Living Wage Study 2022: Yvonne

Community Voices on Living Wage Study 2022: Ronnie

Community Voices on Living Wage Study 2022: Jenny

Perspectives Shared by Interviewees Mary and Donna


Special thanks to interviewees Mary and Donna and to NeighborWorks NEPA for their collaboration.

Living Wage Report 2019 Update

The 2019 update to the Living Wage Report shed light on how conditions changed, as families in NEPA continued to confront severe economic challenges and poverty. While there were many families that fall below the standard measure of poverty – the federal poverty line – there were also many that work full-time but earn less than a living wage. Individuals and families lack economic security in both cases; but the latter found themselves in an ambiguous situation, which this report seeks to expand upon.

In order for families to meet basic needs, living wage data accounts for the estimated costs of several categories of household spending in NEPA today: food, childcare, medical care, housing, transportation, taxes, and other expenses. This 2019 report catalogues challenges posed by various cost increases and details how the living wage threshold has increased; it includes policy recommendations rooted in Catholic Social Teaching and updated to reflect changed over the three years from the original report in 2016 to the 2019 update. 

Page Contents for 2019 Report:

Report Executive Summary
University Press Release
Living Wage Nov. 2019 Seminar Discussion Summary
Video: Remarks by Scott Pilarz, S.J. and special interviews with individuals who have experienced economic insecurity 
Video: Interview with Heather
Video: Interview with Billie
Additional Resources
In The News

 View the living wage report online:
Download the full report. 

Living Wage Nov. 2019 Seminar Discussion Summary

Video: Remarks by Scott Pilarz, S.J. and special interviews with individuals who have experienced economic insecurity

Special thanks to Heather, Billie and Fawn and to collaborating organizations, OUTREACH and SLHDA.

Interview with Heather

Interview with Billie

Community Leader Profiles: The Work of Scranton Area Social Service Agency Directors & How the Lack of a “Living Wage” Affects Their Clients

Completed by students in Communication 224: News Writing taught by Dr. Kim Pavlick, Assistant Professor. Department of Communication. 

Challenging Stereotypes: Student Reflections and Critical Analysis of Stereotypes of “the poor”

Completed by students in PSYC 364: Psychology of Diversity taught by Dr. Jessica Nolan, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology.


To achieve family economic security, a multi-pronged approach is required that involves economic and workforce development, government social safety net programs, and private charitable activities. The following recommendations reflect conclusions drawn from the data presented in this report and based on the advocacy efforts and policy positions of Catholic Charities USA and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Poverty USA Initiative, illustrating the rich discussion of poverty, just wages, and economic justice present in Catholic Social Teaching. 

To learn how you can take action in support of policies that promote a "living wage", please visit the Advocacy Corner. 

View a letter from Bishop Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton

Reflection Questions

The Living Wage Report 2016 brings attention to the challenges confronting Northeastern Pennsylvania's working poor. The report calls for us to reflect on what we can and should do individually, communally, and as an institution of higher learning. As a result, Andrew Milewski, University of Scranton Class of 2013 and Education for Justice graduate assistant for fall 2016, developed a series of questions to help guide reflection in order to help us better understand how we may respond. Click here for the reflection questions.

In the News & Event Highlights

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