A new report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research finds that 30 percent of working families (age 19-64) in West Virginia are economically insecure, which means they don’t make enough money to meet basic monthly expenses (food, transportation, housing, utilities, etc.) and reach modest financial goals. The economic insecurity measures takes into account working adults that receive employments benefits (health insurance + retirement plan) that increase quality-of-life and financial stability for beneficiaries and those working adults who reap no further benefits beyond low-wages.
The amount of income needed for basic economic security varies in West Virginia based on living situation. A single, working adult needs about $27,000 to makes ends meet, while a four-person family needs over $65,000 annually to cover basic needs.
Looking at working households in West Virginia, the share that makes ends meet varies significantly based on sex and household type. Only one quarter – or 25 percent – of single, working women with children are economically secure in West Virginia, compared to 54 percent of single men with children. Single people and married couples fared better, however there is a significant gap between single men and women even without children.
Because single, working women with children are far less likely to be financially secure and, women in general, are more likely to work in low-wage jobs, closing the gender pay gap will help more West Virginians get into the middle class where they can pay bills and save for the future. This will take policymakers passing policies that lift more families out of poverty. A good place to start would be to pass these seven policies that outline how to do just that. This includes raising the minimum wage to a living wage, enacting a state-based Earned Income Tax Credit and paid sick days, establishing a paid family and medical leave program, modernizing overtime rules, fair scheduling practices and boosting child care assistance.
Be sure to look out soon for our upcoming report on the gender pay gap in West Virginia!
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