Report Finds Ohio Wages Growing, But Not at Same Rate as in Years Past


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COLUMBUS, Ohio - An annual look at how workers in Ohio are faring finds their paychecks were slightly higher in 2017, but the growth in pay is not as strong as it's been in the past.

Policy Matters Ohio's new "State of Working Ohio" report shows the unemployment rate of 5 percent is very low, and employers are adding jobs.

However, Amy Hanauer, the think tank's executive director, says the median wage grew 2 percent in 2017, compared with 3 percent in the past few years.

"If we can't create wage growth even when unemployment is this low, then there is something really fundamentally flawed structurally in our economy that requires a different set of policy solutions," she states.

In 2017, the median wage was $17.79 an hour - a 4 cent hourly increase.

The report also shows three of Ohio's 10 most common jobs pay less than the official poverty line for a family of three.

And while the gender wage gap is narrowing, full-time female workers still earn about $6,500 less than their male counterparts.

Hanauer notes there are a number of policy changes that would benefit Ohio workers, including expanded paid family leave and a higher minimum wage.

And at the federal level, she contends restored overtime protections could bring back stability to the work week for nearly 350,000 Ohioans.

"If you make more than $28,000 a year, you make too much to get any overtime at all and you can be forced to work 60 hours a week, 70 hours a week," she points out.

"Think of a manager at a Starbucks or a manager at a Burger King. We ought to restore overtime for those kinds of folks."

The report also calls for reversed tax cuts at the state and federal level that only go to the wealthiest.

Hanauer says more revenue means greater investments in workers, families and communities.

"Regardless of what kind of background you come from, you need good schools for your kids, you need safe child care for kids, you need clean water, and you need your children to be able to afford a higher education," she stresses. "And we're not delivering on those things because of the tax cuts."

Between 1973 and 2015, Ohio's wealthiest seized 86 percent of pre-tax, pre-transfer income growth.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.

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