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Report: 5.7 Million New Yorkers Getting Pinched in their Pockets

June 16, 2008

New York, NY - One in three working New Yorkers is not making enough money to meet their families' basic needs, according to new research from the Fiscal Policy Institute. The study shows it takes $60,000 a year for a family of four to reach what it terms "economic security," covering living expenses with the ability to save a small amount for the future.

Ron Caputo with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades says, given all the low-paying jobs in the state, it's not surprising that almost six million New York residents don't make enough money to get by.

"The rent is too high, and gas now is ridiculous. If you don't have a really good job with an education, or you're not part of organized labor, you're making very minimal money. You may be paying your rent, but you're not paying your phone bill, or your electric bill."

The study noted only one-quarter of New York jobs pay more than $17 per hour and include both employer-provided health insurance and retirement benefits. The report was prepared for Governor Paterson's Economic Security Cabinet.

In neighboring New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, the study finds about one in five families fall into the hardship gap; meaning they are unable to meet basic family expenses. Economist Trudy Renwick conducted the study, and she says conditions in New York are a whole lot tougher, particularly on Long Island.

"Although people make more in New York than they do in other places in the country, it doesn't compensate for the higher cost of living in New York. When we take that into account in measuring what a family needs, we find that 30 percent of families, even though they are working in New York, are not making ends meet."

Renwick says government work support systems - such as food stamps, the earned income tax credit and Medicaid - are making a difference. Without those programs, she says, another quarter of a million New Yorkers would be falling into the hardship gap.

Michael Clifford/Steve Powers, Public News Service - NY