Living Wage Report
Beginning in 2016, The University of Scranton and The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development set out to understand better what constitutes a living wage in Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA). The 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.”
The 2019 update to the Living Wage Report sheds light on how conditions have changed, as families in NEPA continue to confront severe economic challenges and poverty. While there are many families that fall below the standard measure of poverty – the federal poverty line – there are 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 find 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 changes over the past three years.
The 2019 Living Wage Report is a collaboration of The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development and The University of Scranton (Office of Community and Government Relations, the Ellacuría Initiative and the Department of Political Science).
Page Contents for 2019 Report:
University Press Release
Related Information Resources
- ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) in Lackawanna County Report, United Way of Pennsylvania, 2017
- Catholic Charities USA Statements and Letters
- Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, 2019 Indicators Report
- Lackawanna County Comprehensive Blight Strategy, Lackawanna County Land Bank and Neighborworks Northeastern Pennsylvania, December 2018
- Leading National Organizations in Housing, Health, Education, Civil Rights, and More Release Plan to Tackle America’s Affordable Housing Crisis, January 2019
- National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach 2019, Pennsylvania Data
- (Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization, Smart Growth America, December 2015
- Poverty Listening Tour Report – PA State Senate
Community Leader Profiles: The Work of Scranton Area Social Service Agency Directors & How the Lack of a “Living Wage” Affects Their Clientsplus or minus
Scranton Man Helps Community To Achieve Dignified Life by Robert Bauer, Class of 2017
United Neighborhood Center CEO Helps Thousands by Steven DePrimo, Class of 2018
Called to Help Others by Dan Valentino, Class of 2017
Scranton Sister Works with Those in Need by Shannon Bowen, Class of 2018
Serving One Meal, and Smile at a Time by Emily Darcy, Class of 2017
Jesse Ergott: Helping Homeowners, One Home at a Time by Jeffrey Paine, Class of 2018
St. Joseph’s Center’s President: Steward of Service by Nick Wasnetsky, Class of 2017
Challenging Stereotypes: Student Reflections and Critical Analysis of Stereotypes of “the poor”plus or minus
Completed by students in PSYC 364: Psychology of Diversity taught by Dr. Jessica Nolan, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology.
- The Poor are Uneducated? by Shelby Karboski, Class of 2017
- The Poor are Depressed Alcoholics? by Christie Civil, Class of 2017
- The Poor are Lazy? by Melissa Lopez, Class of 2017
Recommendationsplus or minus
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.
Reflection Questionsplus or minusThe 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 Highlightsplus or minus
- Faculty Snapshot Op-eds:
- Dr. Will Cohen: "Living wage as matter of basic human dignity"
- Dr. Meghan Ashlin Rich: "Living wage critical to city’s revitalization"
- Dr. Jessica Nolan: "Kernels of truth yield bushels of stereotypes"
- Dr. Michael J. Jenkins and Dr. Ismail Onat: "Offset Crime's Impact on Disadvantaged"
- Dr. Linda Ledford Miller: "Melting Pot Stew's Language"
- Coverage of Living Wage Report and Events
- The Scranton Times-Tribune, Jon O'Connell: "Local income disparity widens"
- The Scranton Times-Tribune, Denise Allabaugh: "Governor proposes raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour"
- The Scranton Times-Tribune Op-ed, Kevin Quinn, S.J.: "Need for Living Wage Tests Community's Resolve"
- The Aquinas: "Living Wage Study Shows Poverty in Lackawanna County"
- Ignation Solidarity Network: "University of Scranton 'Living Wage' Study Reveals Lingering Income, Job and Social Service Challenges in N.E. Pennsylvania"
- Times Leader: "What is a 'living wage' in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties"
- Scranton Times Tribune: "Study: wages in region fall short of state average"
- Faculty Snapshot Op-eds: