Report shows increase in people earning poverty wages in Michigan

Aug 30, 2013

The Michigan League for Public Policy released its Labor Day report today. The report shows Michigan  increased the number of workers earning a poverty wage.

Fast food workers in Detroit strike for higher wages.
Fast food workers in Detroit strike for higher wages.
Credit www.detroit15.org

Those are workers earning a wage that can't lift a family of four out of poverty. (The poverty rate for a family of four is $23,550 a year, or roughly $11.31 an hour for a fulltime worker.) The number increased from 25% to 28.5% over the past thirty years. Though that's a relatively small increase, most states saw a drastic decrease in poverty wages.

Peter Ruark is a senior policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy and the author of the report. He says raising Michigan's minimum wage could help families who are struggling to make ends meet.

"Workers need to be able to earn enough to support their families and bring them out of poverty," he said. "Michigan clearly has a problem with that too."

Ruark says increasing the minimum wage could even help to improve the economy.

"Minimum wage increases have not been shown to hurt jobs overall," he said. "There's often been a net increase in certain kinds of work."

The report also showed an increase in wage gaps between white workers and African-Americans.

It also showed that while the median wage in Michigan decreased, wages for the top ten percent earners in the state increased.

-Sarah Kerson, Michigan Radio Newsroom