New wage atlas shows more than half of New Yorkers earn below a living wage

ITHACA, NY – A new, digital wage atlas launched by Cornell University researchers shows that more than half of New Yorkers earn below a living wage.

The Cornell ILR Wage Atlas is designed to help New York state policymakers, economic development officials, nonprofits, academics and other stakeholders more easily analyze and visualize who earns living wages and where, and which occupations are best or worst for earning a living wage.

The atlas estimates living wages by county based on household size and local costs including food, housing, transportation, childcare, medical care and taxes.

In addition to statewide analyses, the atlas’s suite of interactive tools allows users to zoom in on specific neighborhoods, cities or regions and to search wages by race, ethnicity and gender, helping to highlight disparities.

“We hope the wage atlas helps our partners in government and elsewhere better understand patterns of inequality,” said Russell Weaver, director of research at the ILR Buffalo Co-Lab. “They can also see which occupations would benefit most from increases to the minimum wage.”

Insights about New York’s workforce generated by the wage atlas include:

  • Across the state, 39.1% of people earn at least a living wage, with white employees (46%) faring significantly better than Black (29.7%) and Hispanic (26%) employees. Among younger workers, 28.4% of those categorized as millennials and Generation Z (born in or after 1981 and 1997, respectively) earn a living wage.
  • Accommodation and food services, part of the state’s tourism sector, is the industry least likely to pay a living wage, with more than 52% of workers earning less.
  • The top 20 jobs for earning a living wage range from podiatrists (81.3%) to plant operators (68.7%). The bottom 20 include cashiers (13.5%), dishwashers (8.3%) and textile machine operators (3.9%).
  • Manhattan boasts the state’s highest percentage of residents – more than 80% – earning a living wage. But a closer look at New York City presents a picture of economic inequality, with median effective hourly wages ranging from more than $50 in some Manhattan neighborhoods to $20 or less in some nearby communities.

More information can be found in this Cornell Chronicle story.

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