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Report: Dayton’s most common jobs pay too little

Too many of the most common jobs in the Dayton area barely pay enough to raise a family or, in some cases, keep those families above the federal poverty line, a new study says.

Seven of the Dayton area’s 10 most common jobs pay the typical worker too little to feed a family of three without food assistance, or earnings under 130 percent of poverty, according to a new report from the labor-focused Ohio think tank, Policy Matters Ohio.

According to a ranking from Policy Matters Ohio, the most common jobs in the Dayton area include retail salespeople, with an annual median salary of $21,060, or just 103 percent of median annual earnings as a share of poverty.

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Using federal data, the report also points to food preparation and service workers (including “fast food” workers), making an annual median of $19,630, or 96 percent of median annual earnings as a share of poverty.

Cashiers earn a little over $19,000 a year, or 94 percent of median annual earnings as a share of poverty, the report says.

Waiters and waitresses do a bit better at $19,310 a year, or 95 percent of the poverty median.

Other common occupations in the Dayton area do better, however. Registered nurses see a median of $65,260 a year, or 320 percent of the poverty median. Laborers and freight, stock and material movers earn $25,270 a year as a median, or 124 percent of the poverty median, according to Policy Matters Ohio.

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And office clerks have an annual median of $32,390, which is 159 percent of the poverty median.

Janitors and maids: $24,870 or 122 percent. Stock clerks: $24,000 or 118 percent. And customer service representatives, $32,590 each year or 160 percent, the report says.

The report compares the top 10 most typical area jobs in 2017 compared to the top 10 most common jobs in the year 2000, and it says median salaries are headed in the “wrong direction.”

Across the state last year, six of Ohio’s 10 most common jobs paid so little that a typical worker would need food assistance to feed a family of three — generally less than $26,000 a year, Policy Matters also said.

“Throughout Ohio, not only are many of the most common jobs paying extremely low wages, many do less to lift working people out of poverty than they did in 2000,” Policy Matters Ohio Researcher Hannah Halbert said in a statement. “State and federal leaders are trying to create new barriers to health care, food aid and housing assistance. If they succeed, many of Ohio’s working people will slip deeper into poverty.”

Although the state has recovered all jobs lost during the last recession, since 2007, 215,000 fewer Ohioans are participating in the workforce, Halbert added, pushing down last year’s statewide unemployment rate of 5 percent. Statewide data also “masks” deep regional disparities and wage stagnation, the organization contends.

“Ohio needs leaders who will make a renewed public commitment to working people,” Halbert said. “Both the nation and state have productive economies with abundant wealth. We can use policy to shape the economy to benefit working people.”

A link to the think tank’s Dayton fact sheet can be found here.

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