"Low Wage Nation" Stats Might Surprise You - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

"Low Wage Nation" Stats Might Surprise You

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BILLINGS, Mont. - We've talked about it often -- Billings unemployment is under three percent, and employers are having a hard time finding qualified workers.

But how many employed people in Montana are making a living wage?

The Montana Organizing Project released its "Low Wage Nation" report Tuesday at Riverstone Health.

The report finds that 49 percent of job openings in Montana pay less than $14.40 per hour -- the amount they consider the living wage for a single person. That dollar amount includes enough income to pay for food, housing, transportation and health care.

Montana Organizing Project representative Sheena Rice says the statistics are sobering, and they're calling on legislators to accept Medicaid expansion to bring more health care jobs to Montana.

Rice says 70,000 Montanans make too little to pay for health insurance, but too little to qualify for Medicaid. She says using federal funds to expand Medicaid would be beneficial for people's health, and the health care job sector.

Rise says raising the wage floor would allow more people to make a living wage.

"So many of our jobs are in the service industry, hospitality -- which are lower wage jobs, and for every job opening that actually offers a living wage of $14.40 for a single adult, we have six people looking for those job," Rice said.

The report finds there are 53,000 job seekers in Montana, and only around 18,000 job openings. Less than half of those job openings pay what the report considers a living wage.

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