//Income and Low Wage Work

Income and Low Wage Work

Economic Research Topics:

  • The metro Atlanta region has seen rapid growth in the years following the great recession. The region added 59,600 jobs from November 2013 to November 2014, an employment growth rate of 2.4 percent.


  • The region has reported employment gains each month for over four years following the recession and has experienced a higher rate of growth than the United States as a whole (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). However, many workers in the region are not earning sufficient wages to cover the basic costs of living and achieve economic security.


  • According to Wider Opportunities for Women’s Basic Economic Security Tables, the economic security wage requirement for one worker with one preschool-age child living in Fulton County is $3,508 per month, or $42,096 per year. In Dekalb County, the basic economic security wage for one adult and one child is similar, at $3,510 per month, or $42,120 per year. Although many workers may live in dual-income households or do not have children, the high percentages of workers earning below this basic economic security wage signifies a prevalence of low-wage and part-time work that may leave many workers unable to meet basic needs or plan for future goals such as homeownership, children’s education, or retirement.


  • High proportions of workers in many census tracts earn less than $1,250 per month, or $15,000 per year. In most tracts in the metro area, more than 20 percent of workers earn less than $15,000 per year, and in some tracts this percentage is much higher, from 40 percent up to 52 percent. The lowest earners are concentrated in south Fulton County, primarily in the southwest portion of the city of Atlanta.


  • A high proportion of workers also earn from $1,251 to $3,333 per month, or from $15,000 to $39,996 per year. These workers are concentrated in southeast and southwest Atlanta, Gainesville, Norcross, Marietta, Clayton County, and northeast Dekalb County, and make up from 15 to almost 70 percent of workers in all census tracts. Tracts with the lowest proportions of these earners are concentrated in north Fulton, northeast Cobb, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Buckhead, and south Forsyth.