The earth is the LORD'S and all that is in it -- Ps 24:1a
You shall love your neighbor as yourself -- Matthew 22:39b
A job should lift everyone out of poverty, not keep them there. But in the U.S. today, fully one-quarter of all jobs pay poverty-level wages. All workers are made in God's image and deserve living wages. Poverty jobs can be changed into life-enhancing jobs if we work to make this happen. Jesus was a Low-Wage Workeris a resource describing low-wage work, the workers in these jobs, and how we can make low-wage jobs into living-wage ones.
In addition to low pay, these jobs often have other disadvantages:
- few benefits such as health insurance, a pension or retirement plan, or paid sick leave;
- inconvenient hours such as nights, weekends, or rotating shifts; or the jobs may be part time;
- these jobs are seldom ladders to better opportunities, they typically have few avenues for advancement;
- the work may be exceptionally dirty or hazardous.
Women and people of color are more likely to hold these jobs than white males.
While low-wage jobs can be found in any industry, they are typically more prevalent in the following ones. Of course, these industries also have many higher paying jobs also.
health care: nursing homes, cleaning hospitals
hospitality: cleaning hotel rooms
restaurants and fast food
child care including early childhood education
meatpacking and poultry processing
Many of these industries are growing rapidly which means the number of low-wage jobs will grow in the future.
Note that much of this work cannot be moved overseas. The jobs performed by these workers -- cleaning, caring for children and elders, selling items to customers -- need to be done in our local communities. If people of faith stand with low-wage workers who are seeking to improve their wages and working conditions, then poverty-wage jobs can be changed into living-wage jobs. Learn more.
There are a number of organizations that bring workers, unions, and people of faith into coalition around this work while others provide important information on issues of worker and economic justice. Get involved!
Request these buttons, in English or Spanish, by sending a note to email@example.com
Educate your Congregation: Perform the one-act drama, Secrets of the Big Box: Workers Tell All! and reveal what life is like behind the racks and checkout lines of a big-box store. Learn what workers are experiencing and really thinking. Ideal for youth, young adults,or any group to perform for the entire congregation. Fun and educational.