Key Findings

Across the board, workers in Washington are not earning enough to make ends meet.

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

Only 64 percent of workers in the state earn enough for a single adult to make ends meet.

Only 30 percent earn enough to support two adults with two children, with one adult working.

Race and Ethnicity Matter in Washington

Data was available for white, black (alone or in combination), Asian (alone or in combination), Native American, and all workers of color, as well as for Latino and non-Latino workers. Native American workers, black workers (alone or in combination), and workers of color were less likely to earn a living wage for all household types than was true for the overall working population. Latinos were less likely to earn a living wage than were non-Latinos.

Forty-seven percent of all workers earn a living wage greater than or equal to the living wage for a single adult with one child, but only 38 percent of black workers (alone or in combination) were able to provide the income needed for that family type. Only 23 percent of black workers earn enough to support a single adult with two children or for a household with two adults and two children, with one adult working, to make ends meet.

The widest gap between Native American workers and all workers is for two working adults with two children. Fifty-two percent of all workers earn a living wage for that household, compared to only 36 percent of Native American workers.

Only 17 percent of Native American workers earn a living wage to support two adults and two children, with only one adult working, as do only 23 percent of black workers (alone or in combination) and 26 percent of all workers of color.

Only 11 percent of Latino works earn a living wage to support a family with two adults and two children, with only one adult working. Only 12 percent earn enough for a single adult with two children to make ends meet.

Gender Matters in Washington

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

Only 58 percent of female workers earn a living wage for a single adult, compared with
67 percent of male workers.

Only 23 percent of female workers earn enough to support two adults and two children with only one adult working, and 24 percent earn enough for a single adult with two children.

Citizenship Matters in Washington

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 45 percent of non-citizens earn enough for a single adult to make ends meet, compared to 66 percent of citizens.

Only 24 percent of non-citizens earn enough for two adults with two children, with only one adult working, compared to 31 percent of citizens.

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Aimee Artega – Seattle, Washington

“I am constantly thinking about how to save on utility bills, like taking short showers. I only do what is absolutely necessary to get by, and I choose my daughter’s needs over my own.”

Personal Testimony: Aimee Artega

My boyfriend and I are trying hard to provide for our daughter, but it feels like the system is against us. The best job my boyfriend has been able to find is working security in downtown Seattle. He has an hour commute both ways and has to pay for parking, but we just can’t afford to live any closer to downtown.

He has considered riding the bus, but that would be a two-and-a-half-hour commute both ways, leaving him absolutely no time to see me or his daughter. I work part-time so I can take a few college classes. Between $4,800 for my community college tuition, $2,500 for my legal fees for my permanent residency application, and my daughter’s diapers, I have no money to spend on anything other than the essentials.

I make trade-offs everywhere in life. I don’t indulge in entertainment or eat out. I only buy clothes for my daughter because she is constantly growing. I use as little gas as possible, so I only go places if I absolutely have to. I am constantly thinking about how to save on utility bills, like taking short showers. I only do what is absolutely necessary to get by, and I choose my daughter’s needs over my own.

My wages do not leave me any room for emergencies or long-term planning. A few weeks ago, I had a very painful and large lump on my body. Because my insurance deductible is $3,000, I waited three weeks before I went to the hospital. Now, I have already received $500 in medical bills and I know more are coming. All I can think about is which bill my next paycheck will pay for.

If I were making a living wage, I would be able to finish my education at the University of Washington, my boyfriend wouldn’t have to stress about getting overtime, and we would get to spend more time together as a family.

Instead, being a mother, student, and low-wage worker with bills hanging over my head leaves me exhausted and emotionally drained. Time is nonexistent; it feels like, at any given time, one of us is commuting, working, or, if we are lucky, sleeping… but it really doesn’t feel like a life.

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Connecticut Equity Report

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National Equity Report

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