Key Findings

Across the board, workers in New York City are not earning enough to make ends meet.

For all five household types, less than half of all workers earn a living wage.

Only 44 percent of workers in the state earn enough for a single adult to make ends meet.

Only 20 percent earn enough for a single adult with two children to make ends meet.

Race and Ethnicity Matter in New York City

Data was available for white, black, Asian, Native American, and all workers of color, as well as for Latino and non-Latino workers. Native American workers, black workers, and workers of color overall were less likely to earn a living wage for all household types than was true for the overall working population. Asians are less likely to earn a living wage than the overall working population in four of five household types. Additionally, Latinos were less likely to earn a living wage than were non-Latinos.

Forty-four percent of all workers earn a living wage greater than or equal to the living wage for a single adult, compared to only 33 percent of workers of color. Further, only 34 percent of Native American workers earn enough for a single adult to make ends meet.

Only 36 percent of black workers earn enough for a single adult to make ends meet.

Only 15 percent of Native American workers earn enough for a single adult with two children to make ends meet.

Only 9 percent of Latino workers earn a living wage to support a single adult with two children, and only 10 percent earn enough to support a family with two adults and two children, with only one adult working.

Gender Matters in New York City

Across all household types, women were less likely than men to earn a living wage.

Only 43 percent of female workers earn a living wage for a single adult, compared with 45 percent of male workers.

Only 18 percent of female workers earn enough for a single adult with two children to make ends meet, and only 21 percent earn enough for a family with two adults and two children, with only one adult working.

Citizenship Matters in New York City

Across all household types, non-citizens were less likely than citizens to earn a living wage.

The widest gap between non-citizens and citizens is for the household with a single adult. Only 25 percent of non-citizens earn enough for a single adult to make ends meet, compared to 49 percent of citizens.

Only 11 percent of non-citizen workers earn enough for a single adult with two children to make ends meet, and only 13 percent earn enough for a family with two adults with two children, with only one adult working.

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NYC-Cecilia

Cecilia Amaya – Flushing, New York

“You can go without eating, but you have to pay your bills when they come. When there isn’t enough money to make the rent, we might not eat.”

Personal Testimony: Cecilia Amaya

Before we moved to New York a year ago, my husband and I were living and working in New Jersey. There, I was a supervisor at a car wash. Although the salary wasn’t enough, it was much better than the salaries for the same work in New York. I worked 40 hours a week, they spoke Spanish, and I lived with my husband in our own apartment. Life there was a little cheaper. My family lived nearby and I had friends that I still can’t find here. It was a place where I felt comfortable. After we moved to New York City, everything changed.

My husband was offered a job at a small painting company, and they said that I could get work with them, too. When we arrived in New York, though, I found out that there was no job available for me. I found out the hard way that sometimes people make promises that they can’t follow through on. I came to New York with dreams that things would be different and easy, but it was a lie.

I have a high school diploma from El Salvador, but most jobs here require proof of a high school diploma from a school in the United States. I’ve applied for all kinds of jobs: restaurants, retail, cleaning, home health care, care-taking, child care. The problem is, you get work through connections and I don’t know anyone here, so it’s hard to get work. I want to go back to school to become a home care worker, but there aren’t classes available until August.

Making things even tougher, I have a couple hundred dollars in medical debt that I’m trying to pay off. While still in New Jersey, I went to the hospital because I had a kidney infection. I went to the emergency room on the health insurance that the car wash provided. The doctor didn’t let me know that he wasn’t in my network. When the bills began to arrive, I called the insurance company to submit my information, but they told me that, because he was outside the network, that they wouldn’t cover the costs.

Then, I spoke with my employer and they told me there was no solution and that I would have to pay the bills. The doctor didn’t accept financial aid or a payment plan because he is a private doctor. When I called the billing office, I spoke with a woman about the bill and she questioned me, asking, “What do you want? That the doctor just let you die?” I just stayed quiet.

My husband paints apartments and earns $80-$100 per apartment, but it’s not steady work, so we’re already cutting everything we can. You can go without eating, but you have to pay your bills when they come. When there isn’t enough money to make the rent, we might not eat. It would be nice to have a job with wages that let us eat whatever we want, but for now, we just eat more empanadas.

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Connecticut Equity Report

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