6 of the most common jobs in Ohio pay so little, workers need to be on public assistance to support their family

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Posted at 8:35 AM, May 21, 2019

CLEVELAND — A new report finds six of Ohio’s 10 most common jobs don’t pay enough to support a family of three, requiring thousands of hard-working folks to be on government assistance just to make ends meet.

The jobs include cashiers, janitors, waiters and waitresses, food prep, retail salespeople, and stock clerks.

“These are jobs that adults are working, these are jobs that people are using to support a family,” said Michael Shields, a researcher with Policy Matters Ohio. The jobs make up roughly 20 percent of the state’s workforce.

Shields used federal 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics to create the report, adding that it is important to point out the low wages aren’t an economic problem — but a policy problem.

Shields said Ohio workers last year created more wealth than ever before.

“The problem is, most of that wealth is being captured at the top — it’s not being shared among workers who are making it possible,” Shields said.

Marquita Phillips knows that all too well.

She has been working at the Arcelormittal Steel Mill in Cleveland for the last five years. When she started, she said she made $8.25 an hour. She and her colleagues work in dangerous conditions, wearing personal protective equipment, hard hats and steel toed boots every day.

“And it’s sort of a problem in our neighborhoods because a lot of our people do backbreaking work and can’t afford a decent meal, can’t afford to pay their bills, so that matters a lot,” Phillips said.

For Marquita, there is some good news.

Janitors at the steel mill fought with the help of SEIU Local 1 and just signed a new contract.

Now, they start at $12.25/hour and are all on the path to $15/hour in the next five years.

“Everybody is over the poverty line now, everybody is making livable wages,” Phillips said. “I feel like if we get more money in our pockets, we can put more money in our communities.”

Policy Matters Ohio created a 10-point policy plan to provide solutions for the issue of low wages — click here to read.