Can Montana afford to provide “living wages” to low wage workers?

Dec 3, 2013

Authors of a new study say it clearly illustrates what so many Montanans already know; that there are precious few well-paying jobs in the state.

      What's more - for those that do exist, there's no shortage of people competing to be hired.

(L-R) Jason Wiener, Gail Gutsche, Jen Euell and Nancy Wilson. (Celeste Thompson not pictured)
Credit Edward O'Brien

The America's Changing Economy: Searching for Work that Pays in the New Low-Wage Job Market" was jointly issued by the Alliance for a Just Society and the Montana Organizing Project, two organizations working to address social, racial and economic justice issues.
       In this feature interview, Edward O'Brien speaks with MOP director, Gail Gutsche; state representative Nancy Wilson; Women's Foundation of Montana Executive Director, Jen Euell; Missoula City Councilman Jason Wiener and home healthcare worker Celeste Thompson about low wage work and the "Job Gap". This report defines the Job Gap as the ratio of job seekers to living wage job openings.
       First, Wilson opens the discussion by offering her explanation of the difference between the minimum wage and a "living" wage: