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Study: “Workin’ for a Livin’” No Easy Job in MT

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October 10, 2007

Helena, MT – The cost of living in Montana has jumped 20 percent in four years, while wages are up less than half of that, according to a new report from the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations. Report researcher Gerald Smith says the biggest increase is in health care, and even those with coverage at work are getting pinched as employers deal with higher costs.

"Those increases, which are one of the things that employers are having to do as they see health care costs go up, they're having to shift those costs on to the employees."

Smith says health care is up 36 percent for Montanans who are covered by health insurance on the job. In his view, the report is even more proof that health care reform is needed now.

"As costs are being shifted to employees, more employees are not able to afford it, so they're falling into this gap. It's low-income and it's moderate-income families that are not able to afford their health insurance."

The analysis also finds that 80 percent of available jobs do not pay a "living wage" for an average family of four, which is around $27 an hour. Smith says a higher minimum wage and incentives for businesses to create "living wage" jobs are two ways to help Montana families.

To view the complete report online, visit

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MT