The living wage calculator (LWC) is a data series that has been an ongoing effort for the past 19 years. We expect to publish the 2022 LWC revision come early March. As the pandemic approaches the two year mark, the continuing recovery of the national psyche along with the dramatic changes it has brought upon the public’s attitude towards the working class stresses the importance of fair compensation for minimum wage workers, specifically in low income communities. I want to take a few minutes to relay the LWC story to benefit our user community.
Two decades ago, Tracey Farrigan, an economist at the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and I worked on a Ford Foundation-sponsored project, “Reexamining Poverty Policy.” The project identified job losses in rural areas which proved to be unusually large and consequently severe. The tool derived from this project initially informed local policymakers about programs to help families and communities recover from large-scale job loss in an effort to prompt policy makers to come up with a solution. Subsequently, for about five years, the tool regularly confirmed for individuals the cost of living in their community and the disconnect between their income and the local cost of living. On the eve of the financial crisis of 2007-2009, tool users grew in diversity. Users included legal service lawyers and local government officials who expressed a desire to improve municipal outsourcing. This in turn led cities to reconsider service privatization and bring critical service employees back to the board. The financial crisis brought shocking relief to the country's large-scale suffering. Ministers sought explanations to minister to their congregants, small business owners employed family members as they struggled to cover fixed operating costs, corporate human resource professionals struggled to juggle the desire to pay a living wage and the lack of control they had over the required funds during a once-in-a-lifetime economic downturn. By the end of 2015, tool users had switched paths again. Today the daily five to ten inquiries are from employers, ESG professionals working inside organizations and corporations, and national non-profits like the YWCA, the American Bar Association's Commission on Homelessness & Poverty, public officials, and Senate staffers, to name a few.
We plan to release the data before the end of the first week in March. The tool’s new developments include reprogramed code, automated extraction of annual data, and the incorporation of data. Additionally, we have worked with private and government professionals in Puerto Rico to expand on the living wage data. Finally, we expect to make substitutions to specific categories of data as they become publicly available, so stay tuned.
To all of you who use the tool, we appreciate your support. Wages are rising for many, many people around the country. Keep it up employers!
Living Wage Team First Clean Run 2022 Data (Anindita Bandyopadhyay, Chet Swalina (West Arete) and Carey Anne Nadeau (RideWithLoop)