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Report: 64% of Florida job openings pay less than living wage

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Published:   |   Updated: December 4, 2013 at 07:18 PM

While Florida elected officials tout improving monthly job creation figures, the majority of the state’s job openings pay less than a living wage, the Seattle-based non-profit Alliance For A Just Society reported in its 15th annual Job Gap Study.

The study released this week reported 13 job seekers for every projected living wage job opening in Florida, with 64 percent of all job openings paying less than a living wage.

The report defined living wage for a single adult in Florida as $16.84 an hour based on data from a variety of census sources.

“It’s interesting to see Gov. (Rick) Scott talk a lot about job creation,” said Ben Henry, a co-author of the report that in previous years has focused primarily on states in the Northwest. “It was stunning to see the great number of low wage jobs in the Florida economy.”

Henry pointed out the national job creation wage gap is similar to, though not as severe as Florida’s, with seven job seekers for every projected job opening above an average U.S. living wage threshold of $15 an hour.

The report calls attention to forming an impression about the progress of the economy based simply on changes in employment rates or job numbers, without considering how much newly created jobs pay.

Nationwide, the number of jobs in occupational categories with median wages above $15 an hour dropped by 4 million from 2009 to 2012, a number masked by an increase of 3.6 million jobs with median wages below $15 an hour, the report said.

Comparable figures for Florida were not available because this is the first year the state was included in the report.

“In addition to ending subsidies for low-wage jobs, wages across the board must increase, starting with the minimum wage and extending to minimum wages,” the report recommended.

“Though Florida indexes minimum wages to inflation, at $7.79, our findings show it is still well below the calculated living wage for even a single adult, let alone for a parent with children.”

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