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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The Value of Higher-Wage Jobs in the Local Economy

Written By: Benjamin Snow



Stating the question another way, if your community established a goal to create $100,000 in new annual payroll, would you rather have ten workers who are paid $10,000 per year (roughly equivalent to part-time minimum wage jobs at 25-30 hrs per week), four at $25,000 ($12/hr full time), two at $50,000 ($25/hr), or one at $100,000?

I conducted an unscientific survey within my own community over the past several months and the majority of respondents voted for the two at $50K scenario, mostly because this equated to a single wage earner beating the region’s household average, thus raising the standard of living in two households, versus just one. Below are some of their other stated reasons, along with a couple of my own, for growing higher-wage year-round jobs in the community:
1. Creation of more disposable income for local retail and recreation spending (all year long).
2. Creation of more wealth, which employees will have available to invest in local services (financial services, insurance, and real estate).
3. Keeping more of the talent produced in our region’s schools/universities closer to home.
4. Increasing tax revenues all year (sales and property) due to higher money flow in the region.
5. More resources are made available to help local charities and non-profits while the needs of public assistance and social services are reduced.
6. Intangible benefits for workers, such as more certain futures, less financial anxiety and ultimately more economic freedom.
As we work to improve the condition of our local economies by striking a healthy balance between entry-level, skilled-trade and professional level jobs, let us
remember that some jobs create more community wealth than others and the quality of the jobs being created is usually more important than the number of
jobs. PB