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Povertyin America: One Nation, Pulling Apart

Living Wage and Job Gap Study of Beaufort County, South Carolina

Tracey L. Farrigan and Amy K. Glasmeier

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This paper was produced as a part of the Living Wage Project.

Introduction: In ongoing policy debates regarding welfare reform and economic development in South Carolina and throughout the nation, unemployment and poverty rates are often relied upon as key indicators of economic well-being. Doing so diverts attention from those with jobs to those without, away from those living at the margins to those who have already fallen into despair. This neglect of the working poor assumes that those with jobs are earning a livable wage, that is, an employment-based income that allows them to meet the basic needs of their families without suffering critical hardship and without dependence on government assistance. This study examines the reality of that assumption for those living and working in Beaufort County, South Carolina. An overview of the economic health of Beaufort County and its residents is provided, a basic needs budget is constructed, a livable wage is calculated, and the extent of living wage jobs currently in the county is estimated.

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