Living Wage For US data shows over half of Americans earning less than a living wage

Living Wage For US data shows over half of Americans earning less than a living wage

Living Wage Blog Uncategorized

New certification system launches today to help employers analyze total remuneration, inclusive of benefits, and close the gap to a decent living for their workers

Sleepy Hollow, NY (November 15, 2021) – Across the U.S. today over half of American workers don’t earn enough to support themselves and their families at a basic level of decency from a human rights lens. U.S. based, non-profit organization, Living Wage For US (For US) celebrates global living wage week by launching a new certification system enabling employers to understand the wages and benefits necessary in their locations to achieve decency for all their workers, and to transparently communicate to investors and consumers through an earned seal, when they are paying a living wage.

In partnership with the Economic Policy Institute, For US has calculated values for living wages county by county across the US that include essentials for a family of four like food, housing, healthcare, transportation, childcare, retirement savings, taxes, and a small margin to buffer for unexpected events. In the age of Covid, a worker’s ability to weather unexpected situations has become increasingly pertinent. And as employers struggle to fill jobs, companies are looking for the right formula to attract or retain a much-needed workforce. First of its kind, the For US living wage standard and certification system provides in-depth understanding of how to structure a total remuneration plan so that workers earn a living wage while employers maximize the benefits and affordability of this investment in their workers.

Michelle Murray, founder and CEO of For US makes clear why a third-party living wage certification is so pertinent to the moment. “The need for a transparent understanding and communication on living wage is more apparent now than ever before as 2020 research from Just Capital shows that across all demographics, political affiliations, incomes, genders, and generations, Americans find payment of a living wage the most important issue that business should address. If employers can show consumers and investors that they are heeding that call, we can have a solution that works for workers, for employers, for communities, and for us!”

The For US standard and certification has the potential to support increased wages for tens of millions of workers across the United States. In efforts to highlight this endeavor, For US partners with the UK Living Wage Foundation, UN Global Compact, World Benchmarking Alliance, Share Action, Good Jobs Institute, Lean Enterprise Institute, and Living Wage Network, to deliver a series of events this week from November 15-19 celebrating global living wage week and launching its new certification system. These events offer opportunities to understand how and why a living wage certification can go the distance in delivering on the new purpose of a corporation, as set forth by Business Roundtable, investing in employees by compensating them fairly.

CONTACT:

Michelle Murray

Living Wage For US, CEO

+1-407-234-0293

michelle@livingwageforus.org

https://livingwageforus.org

Living Wage For US Selected for Uncharted’s Signature Accelerator Program Alongside Nine Early-Stage Ventures Tackling Economic Inequality in the U.S.

Living Wage Blog

Living Wage For US (referenced as For US)will receive $25k in funding, introductions to subject-matter experts, access to a peer support community, and mental health resources.

Sleepy Hollow, NY. September 15, 2021 — Uncharted announced today its cohort of ten early-stage social ventures for the Economic Inequality Initiative, a six-month accelerator supporting solutions addressing economic inequality in the U.S. Among them is For US, an early-stage non-profit national living wage certification system using the For US Standard. For US will receive $25k in unrestricted funding, access to a peer support community, and introductions to subject-matter experts like Ai-jen Poo, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Edgar Villanueva, Founder and Principal of the Decolonizing Wealth Project. 

The economic divide in the U.S. is sharp and rising. In the decades since the great recession, middle-and-lower classes saw their collective wealth shrink by over 20%, disproportionately affecting women, people of color, and young people. “Economic inequality is the biggest problem of our generation,” said Banks Benitez, Uncharted’s CEO. “Generational problems require new and long-term ways of thinking, of building power, and of creating change. We’re honored to work alongside the entrepreneurs and activists leading the way.”

“We are so excited to be a part of the first Economic Inequality Initiative and see the support they provide as perfectly timed to help us gear up for our formal nationwide launch November 15th” said Michelle Murray, founder and CEO of Living Wage For US. “The connections and support within our peer group and beyond will really help us scale and drive the impact we want to see in the US, where ensuring a decent quality of living for workers provides benefit for workers, for employers, for communities and for US!”

For US was one of ten participants selected from a pool of 344 applications from early-stage ventures across the U.S. The ten selected ventures are closing wealth gaps in the U.S. through education, housing, small business assistance, financial literacy, and policy advocacy.

To learn more about Uncharted’s Economic Inequality Initiative and to meet the cohort of selected ventures, visit uncharted.org/eii.

ABOUT For US and the Living Wage Standard

For US certifies U.S. employers that pay their workers and contractors a living wage based on real costs of living. More than that, we create a community to support employers in understanding how to pay living wages in a way that benefits workers, employers, and communities.  We engage consumers and other interested stakeholders through social media, telling the positive stories of those whose lives are affected by higher wages and building the business case for living wage payment. We use research to navigate the impacts of policy changes on how workers can achieve a decent living, creating a space where solid research leads to strong action. We join in solidarity with all of you who believe that hard work should ensure a decent living, and celebrate the employers, investors, and organizations who are leading the way. 

Formally launching during living wage week November 15, 2021, we are already working with employers across all industries in the US to make living wage payment understandable and achievable. Overcoming the barriers and creating the incentives to enable employers to pay living wages, affording a decent quality of life for working families.

ABOUT UNCHARTED

Uncharted is a social impact accelerator that supports early-stage ventures tackling economic inequality in America. Our programs are fixed-term, cohort-based, and mentorship-driven. They are open to social ventures, nonprofits, movement builders, advocacy organizations, coalitions, and hybrid models.

Our results are exponential—for every $1 in funding we receive, our ventures generate $8.12 within two years, funding that they attribute directly to Uncharted’s support. For over 10 years, we’ve backed early-stage ventures with audacious goals. Equipping them to challenge the status quo is what we do best.

MEDIA CONTACT

Michelle Murray

Living wages across the whole supply chain: focusing at home in the U.S.

Living wages across the whole supply chain: focusing at home in the U.S.

Living Wage Blog

‘Living wages’ has become a topic that is regularly and widely discussed, with increasing momentum behind initiatives across the globe. Stakeholders from different backgrounds and ideologies are coming together around the shared conviction that profit gained at the detriment of workers is simply unsustainable.

I recall the first multi-stakeholder living-wage meeting that I attended in Amsterdam in 2013, in the early part of this global movement. Sustainability leaders, certification systems, companies and ministries from three European countries were in attendance (U.S. policy makers were noticeably absent!). The purpose of the meeting was to begin building a common agenda to advance on living wages, with a focus on European procurement policies and supply chains in developing and transitional countries. But nobody was really discussing the need for living wages in “developed countries”. I remember asking a ministry representative if they planned to roll-out a living wage strategy domestically as well as internationally. The answer was no. Needless to say, this narrow view of the supply chain struck me as inadequate and has helped fuel my own work on living wages ever since.

Across the globe, individual companies and entire sectors are making major commitments to living wages, and some are putting real effort toward progress. Much of this effort has focused on workers at the bottom of supply chains – those working to produce raw materials or at manufacturing sites. Without a doubt, these supply chain workers are grossly underpaid and deserve living wages. Freedom from poverty is a human right, and many of the countries where these goods are produced are among the poorest in the world. And chronic poverty is a significant driver behind many other social problems – from food insecurity, physical and mental health issues, and poor academic achievement to child labor and bonded labor.

But we mustn’t forget that poverty and income inequality pervade even the richest countries in the world. Here in the United States, 50.8 million U.S. households struggle to put food on the table or pay for adequate shelter, routine medical attention, childcare, or transportation. 40% would find it difficult to cope with an unexpected expense of just $400. And low-income individuals in the U.S. have a lower life expectancy, and families suffer psychological consequences (JAMA, BMJ Open).

Over the last six years, my work has taken me to leading banana, cocoa, coffee and tea producing countries. When I talk about living wage, I am always dogged by a feeling of hypocrisy. And this is not lost on my international counterparts. Producer associations, growers, and unions alike have inquired whether living wages are paid in my home country. And the fact remains that most of those working on the front lines with American consumers – cashiers, grocery clerks, baristas, servers, etc. are not earning a living wage. Not to mention the people that care for us, our children and our elderly, keep are communities clean, and make life generally better – those that make up the fabric of our society.

What are we signaling to people of other nations when we push for living wages in their (often poorer) countries while failing to pay living wages in our own? And what are we saying to our neighbors when we focus on the wellbeing of people farther away while seemingly blind to those in front of us?

It is time for us all – employers, consumers and civil society – to look at living wage from a truly global perspective, including its imperative across entire supply chains, from production through consumption, and across every industry, whether consumer goods or services. Workers everywhere should be able to feed their families without sacrifice and afford a decent, if basic, standard of living. For employers – private, public, and non-profit – this starts by getting our own houses in order.

Peter Georgescu, Chairman Emeritus of Young and Rubicam, said it well:

What we desperately need now is not to abandon free market capitalism, but to correct its vision: to restore its broader sense of responsibility to multiple stakeholders, to our society as a whole.

Despite strong and well-intentioned advocacy and policy efforts, few places in the U.S. today have minimum wages that approach a living wage. Yet, according to Just Capital (2018), Americans rank living wage and worker benefits as the top considerations for U.S. companies. And while some employers have made living wages a top priority, there is no easy way for consumers and investors to identify which ones pay living wages, and how to support them.

Until now.

Living Wage For US is building a nonpartisan, market-led certification system that will focus on the entire supply chain, starting with U.S. employers that pay living wages to their own workers and contractors. Starting at home, we want to ensure that American workers are fairly compensated without prejudice. From there, we help certified employers build practical, global living wage policies that extend across supply chains and across the world.

This is an issue that affects us all and threatens our economy and international stability.

Are you concerned about living wages? Do you know if you pay living wages to your employees? Need help creating and implementing a strategy to improve worker wages, starting with your own U.S. operations?  Living Wage For US is here to help! www.livingwageforus.org