By Veronica Carter
Indiana's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. If you do the math, that's $290 a week, or roughly $15,000 a year.
Jessica Fraser, program manager at the Indiana Institute of Working Families, says even if two parents work full-time at that wage, it still isn't enough income to meet basic needs - and without public assistance or taking on multiple jobs, a family can't survive and save.
She says some state lawmakers' view is that Indiana's good business climate offers many chances for employment. She counters that there's a "job-quality" problem in the state.
"The top three jobs in terms of number of employees - the number of people that have those jobs in Indiana - they pay less than $9 an hour, on average," says Fraser. "Not enough to support a family."
Fraser adds it's worse for waiters and waitresses, who are paid $2.13 an hour and expected to make up the difference in tips. The last time they saw a raise was in 1991, although the restaurant industry has seen strong growth and profitability.
According the National Women's Law Center, gender gaps and poverty rates for tipped workers are smaller in states where waiters get the same pay as other minimum-wage workers.
Fraser notes there was legislation to help working families before the General Assembly last session, but it wasn't approved.
"There were some opportunities to improve job quality, to do something with paid family leave insurance," she says. "That didn't happen. It's certainly something that Indiana - and indeed, the whole nation - needs to be talking about."
Fraser says in Indiana, the median number of work hours at minimum wage for a single adult to become self-sufficient is 48 hours per week. That goes up to 108 hours for an adult with one preschooler and one school-age child.
For a family with two adults, a preschooler and a school-age child, each adult would have to work 64 hours for the family to be considered financially self-sufficient.